What is a cataract?

A cataract is clouding within the natural lens of the eye which means you can’t focus clearly.

Cataracts can cause reduced vision and eventually blindness if left untreated and usually develop in both eyes at the same time. Many people who reach old age will develop a cataract.

Some groups of people are more likely to suffer from cataracts than others

  • Older people – it’s estimated that 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 suffer from cataracts.
  • People with a family history of the condition.
  • A blow to the eye can occasionally cause a traumatic cataract.

Conditions such as diabetes and certain medications can result in a cataract forming, and smoking may speed up the progression of certain types of cataract.

How do I know if I have a problem?

Cataracts are painless and their symptoms can vary from person to person. They may include:

  • Blurred vision.
  • A gradual loss of colour vision - objects appear duller.
  • Difficulty reading.
  • Poor vision in low light situations.
  • Frequent changes of prescription glasses.
  • An increased sensitivity to bright lights.
  • Double vision, even with only one eye open.

These symptoms don’t necessarily indicate a cataract, but you should always visit your optician or doctor if you’re worried.

What treatment is available?

Cataracts can be treated by a routine operation. The cloudy lens is removed and replaced by a synthetic one. The operation is usually carried out as an outpatient procedure.

How do I get help?

If you’re worried you may have a cataract, you should visit your optician or doctor at the earliest opportunity.


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