What is a cataract? Basically there is a lens in the eye that controls focusing. As a person ages this lens can become cloudy which dims the vision, like looking out of a dirty window. UV exposure has been linked to cataract development, so wearing well-fitting sunglasses with full UV protection and good coverage can help reduce your risk of cataract development.
There are many different types of cataract depending on which part of the lens is affected and the underlying cause (i.e. age, injury or health problems such as diabetes). Not all types of cataract are the same and not all will develop in a similar manner. Indeed some cataracts, congenital cataracts are present from birth and others may arise due to trauma or because of a person being on certain medication. However, the majority of cataracts are seen in older people.
How will I know I have a cataract?
A person with an age related cataract might find that they can’t see as well as they used to or that their vision in general is “dimmer” than before. They may also suffer from glare. Their prescription may have changes suddenly after a long period of stability. The change is often gradual and is painless and in many cases a person may not have any symptoms in the early stages of cataract development.
How is a cataract treated?
Cataracts can be treated by means of a very simple surgical procedure, which is usually carried out under local anaesthetic as an out-patient procedure in a hospital.
When to treat a cataract is a decision for the eye specialist (ophthalmologist) but your optometrist will advise you if / when you will need to consult an ophthalmologist. Many ophthalmologists would not consider treating a cataract until it begins to sufficiently bother the patient.