What is cataract?

A cataract is when the lens inside the eye becomes cloudy and it starts to impede vision. The symptoms that people typically get a glare, for example when driving a car at night, and in fact, I think you can spot cataract from the car behind because the car in front, as soon as someone comes towards you with headlights will slow down, when the cars pass they’ll speed up. And that’s a typical sign for someone who has cataracts with suffering glare at night.

The other symptoms that people get are obviously reduction in vision and also alteration in colour perception. So the colours appear washed out, there’s a loss of contrast, and we’ve seen this in patients who have painted before and after cataract surgery. So preoperatively it’s pretty dull, postoperatively the colours are really vibrant.

The other things that people complain of are that there is a sort of smudge in their vision, that’s it’s like they have dirty glasses, and having difficulty reading.

The timing of cataract surgery really depends on how much the symptoms affect the patient. You have to take into account the risk of surgery and if they feel that the benefits are outweighed by the risks then it’s appropriate to undergo surgery.

The concept of the cataract being ripened is no longer applicable. It’s really driven by the patient’s requirements and their desires for improvement in vision.

More about Paul Rosen

Paul Rosen is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at The Grange Eye Consultants. His special expertise is in laser eye surgery, cataract surgery, and the treatment of Age-related Macular Degeneration, glaucoma, and retinal diseases. He has over 20 years experience in treating people with eye problems. Paul is invited to lecture on cataract and refractive surgery both nationally and internationally. He leads clinical trials investigating novel eye treatments. Paul has served as the President of the UK and Ireland Society of Refractive Surgeons and is currently the President of the European Society of Corneal and Refractive Surgery. More recently I’d been appointed as a member of the NICE Cataract Guidelines Committee and also on the Refractive Surgery Subcommittee of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.