Cataracts

In everyone, a small lens sits inside the eye, just behind your pupil, and helps focus light on the back of your eye.  Any loss of transparency in the lens is called ‘cataract'. 

Variations in Cataracts

Cataract can vary in severity from lens changes so mild that they hardly affect vision at all, right through to dense lens changes that block the vision entirely.  Cataracts usually develop slowly, but not always. There are also different ways in which a cataract can come about - sometimes the whole lens develops a uniform haze, sometimes changes only occur in a small part of the lens.  Because of the variety of appearance and severity of the changes, the experience of cataract differs from one person to another. 

What do cataracts do to vision?

Cataracts can be responsible for any of the following symptoms.  (Not everyone with cataract will experience all of these, and cataract is not the only possible cause of these symptoms)

  • Blurred vision outdoors
  • Glare problems - sensitivity to bright lights
  • Needing sunglasses when outdoors more than previously
  • Difficulties with vision while driving - especially at night
  • Haloes around lights, ghosting, and doubling of vision
  • Difficulties reading small print
  • Reading problems, worse in poor light
  • Changes to your glasses prescription - sometimes described as ‘I see better without my glasses', or ‘my older glasses work better than my newer ones'

 

What can Sharpe and Fowler do?

If you think you may be developing cataract, it's important to get your eyes examined, because other eye conditions can give rise to the same sorts of symptoms. 

Part of our eye examination involves checking the lenses in the eyes for cataract, and reviewing the quality of your vision and your spectacle prescription.   

For mild cataracts, simply updating your glasses, or advising on tinted lenses is all that needs doing, along with regular review.  As cataracts develop, further cataract surgery will eventually be required.  It's not always an easy decision, but we're here to discuss with you your vision and the options you have.  We’ll help you choose what's best for you.  If you choose to be assessed for cataract surgery, we can arrange referral to an eye specialist.  We will also help with follow-up once the surgery has been done. 

Can cataracts be prevented?

There's still a lot to be found out about the development of cataracts.  We know some people genetically inherit them, and some people are at higher risk of developing them, such as diabetics, those taking corticosteroid medications or those exposed to high levels of radiation - heat or UV.  But for most it still just seems to be an age-related condition, with no magic preventatives.  Keeping up good UV eye protection, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy balanced diet may be helpful. 

Further information on Cataracts

British Medical Journal summary of cataract

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