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UNDERSTANDING CATARACT

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What can I do to protect my vision or prevent cataract?

 

What is a cataract?Eye Diagram
A cataract is a clouding or frosting of the lens of the eye. Most commonly this cloudiness is age related however occasionally it can be due to trauma to the eye, it may be secondary to diabetes or other medical conditions, and can be congenital.

The lens focuses light onto the retina and adjusts to allow us to focus clearly on near or distant objects. As we age the clear crystalline lens can start to cloud, and this progresses over time. Gradually the vision resembles a similar effect to that of looking through frosted glass. At this stage a new glasses prescription will not be able to correct your vision.

What is the lens?
The lens is the part of the eye that helps focus light on the retina (just like the lens in a camera). The retina is the eye's light-sensitive layer that transmits visual signals to the brain (like the photographic film in a camera). In a normal eye, light passes through the lens and gets focused on the retina. To help produce a sharp image, the lens must remain clear.

What are the symptoms of a cataract?
A cataract begins quite small and may have little effect on vision at first. You may notice that your vision is slightly blurred. A cataract can also cause glare in bright sunlight or glare around lights. This might be noticed at night when looking at oncoming car headlights. Some people report that colours may not appear as bright as they once did. As the cataract gets bigger and clouds more of the lens, you will find it harder to read and do other day-to-day tasks. Less commonly cataracts can cause double vision in the affected eye.

At what age do they most commonly develop?
Some people develop cataracts between the ages of 40 & 60 years, but these rarely have a significant effect on vision. In patients over 60 years cataracts typically become more dense and start to impact vision.

Cataract Patient How is a cataract diagnosed?
A cataract is most often detected by your optometrist as part of your annual or biannual eye examination. However if you suspect a cataract, a visit to your optometrist will be able to confirm this. Should he or she find a cataract they will be able to monitor it and advise you about any future treatment. Not all cataracts need immediate treatment and same may not require surgery for years.  

When does a cataract require treatment?
With modern surgical techniques it is possible to operate on a cataract at a relatively early stage, they do not need to be mature. There is no level of vision at which cataract surgery is indicated, but it is usually recommended if the quality of your vision is reduced such that is affecting your lifestyle. Surgery is also indicated if you wish to drive and your vision no longer meets the legal standards.

How is a cataract treated?
Once a cataract has developed such that it is affecting your daily life, it is treated with surgery. An experienced eye surgeon will remove your clouded lens and, in most cases, replace it with a clear, plastic lens. Cataract surgery is extremely successful in restoring vision and is one of the most common surgical procedures performed each year in the UK. It is also one of the quickest operations.At Grange Eye Consultants we use micro-incision phaco technology to remove the cataract.

What can I do to protect my vision or prevent cataracts?
Although research has not yet proved how to prevent cataracts, people over the age of 60 are at risk of many vision problems. If you are 60 years or older, you should have an eye examination through dilated pupils at least every 2 years. This kind of exam allows your optometrist or surgeon to check for signs of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and other vision disorders.

 

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