We’re answering that all-important question “what is a cataract?” as part of our ‘in focus’ series.
Did you know that an estimated 30% of people aged 65+ have a visually impairing cataract in one or both eyes?
What is a cataract?
A cataract is an eye condition where the lens in our eyes becomes cloudy and affects how light enters the eye.
This condition forms inside the eye, rather than over it. It’s a common misconception that a cataract forms over or outside the eye.
A cataract can develop in either one or both of your eyes as part of the natural ageing of the eye.
As cataracts develop gradually, it means that any changes to your vision may not always be noticeable.
That’s why it’s important to attend your regular sight test to help diagnose or monitor the condition.
How can cataracts affect vision?
Cataracts can affect your vision and cause sight loss as the condition progresses.
As the condition causes cloudy, blurry or even misty vision, it can be difficult to see detail in the world around us.
It may become harder to carry out daily activities such as driving or even recognising faces.
The condition may also cause fading of colours, difficulty seeing in dim lit conditions and finding bright lights dazzling.
However, in a lot of cases vision can benefit from simply prescribing and wearing the correct glasses.
If you currently wear glasses, it may often seem like your glasses are dirty even when they’re clean.
Can the eye condition be treated?
If your cataract is severe and restricts your daily life, your optician may refer you for cataract surgery to treat the condition.
There’s no need to worry because the operation is a quick and routine procedure.
In fact, the surgery is usually offered as an outpatient appointment.
After surgeons remove the cloudy lens, they will insert a plastic or silicone lens.
The artificial lens is designed to not need replacing for the rest of your life.
Of course, with any surgery there are risks. However, cataract surgery is one of the most common operations in the UK and is highly successful.
Whether you wear glasses to ease your symptoms or need surgery, it’s possible to see better and live better with cataracts.