Cataracts occur when protein builds up in the lens of your eye, resulting in the lens becoming cloudy. A cloudy lens prevents light from reaching your retina. The condition can affect one or both eyes and causes deterioration of your sight, which can lead to complete vision loss if left untreated. Here's what you need to know about cataracts:
There's not always an identifiable cause for cataracts, but common causes include:
- Aging—As you get older, the proteins in your eyes begin to cluster together and block out light.
- Pollution—Protein build-up can be accelerated by exposure to environmental pollution.
- Medically-Induced—The production of protein in your eyes can change when taking certain medications or undergoing radiotherapy.
Cataracts are easy to spot when your eyes become visibly cloudy, but there are other symptoms that can manifest before you notice clouding. Common symptoms include:
- Blurry or double vision
- Bright colours appear muted
- Increased sensitivity to bright lights, which may make night driving uncomfortable
- Struggling to read or see the television at a distance that was previously adequate
Treating cataracts requires surgery. You can opt to wait and see if your eyes deteriorate quickly or slowly, but sooner or later you'll need surgery to restore your sight. Cataracts surgery has a high success rate and is performed as a day case with minimal recovery time required.
An eye surgeon will numb the affected eye with local anaesthetic drops or an injection and use a small ultrasound device to break down the lens. Next, the lens is removed with a suction tool and an artificial lens is inserted into your eye.
Artificial lenses are made with clear plastic and you can opt for a basic lens or one that has focussing capability. The advantage of a lens with focussing capability is it removes the need for prescription glasses, which will still be required of you opt for a basic lens. Your new lens will improve your vision instantly and if you need surgery on both eyes they can be done together or you can opt to have each eye operated on at different times.
Cataracts surgery is a routine procedure, but all surgical procedures carry a risk of developing complications. Your eye surgeon will be happy to discuss the potential complications associated with cataracts surgery such as post-surgical infection, so have a chat with them before undergoing the procedure.
If you're experiencing any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment for an eye test through resources like myEyeSpecialist. If your optometrist diagnoses cataracts they will refer you to an eye specialist for treatment.