All about cataract

All about cataract

A cataract is the clouding of the lens inside the eye. The lens is found just behind the iris and the pupil. The majority of cataracts develop when aging changes the tissue that makes up the eye’s lens.

Some inherited genetic disorders that cause other health problems can increase the risk of developing cataracts. They can also be triggered by other eye conditions, eye surgery, medical conditions such as diabetes or long-term use of steroid medications.

How a cataract forms

The lens focuses light that passes into the eye, producing clear, sharp images on the retina; which is the light-sensitive layer in the eye that functions like film in a camera. As you age, the lenses in your eyes become less flexible, less transparent and thicker. As cataract develops, tissues within the lens become cloudy.

As a cataract continues to develop, the clouding becomes denser and spreads, scattering and blocking the light as it passes through the lens. This prevents a clearly defined image from reaching the retina, which is when blurred vision occurs. Cataracts generally develop in both eyes, but not evenly. The cataract in one eye can be worse than in the other, causing a difference in vision between eyes.

How common are cataracts?

According to the World Health Organisation, cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment in the world. More people suffer from cataracts than glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy combined.

Most cataracts take a long time to develop before affecting vision on a daily basis. It can take years before cataracts will eventually interfere with vision so much that it makes day-to-day tasks such as driving too difficult. In the early stages, stronger lighting and glasses can help, but if impaired vision interferes with usual activities, there may be a need for cataract surgery. Fortunately, cataract surgery is generally a safe, effective procedure.

Symptoms suggesting cataracts may be developing

  • Clouded, blurred or dim vision
  • Increasing difficulty with vision at night
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
  • Seeing “halos” around lights
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
  • Fading or yellowing of colours
  • Double vision in a single eye

Nobody really knows why our lenses tend to cloud up as we get older, but there are numerous factors which have been linked to cataract development, including:

  • Genetics & family history
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Eye injuries
  • Excessive exposure to UV rays
  • Steroid usage

What to do?

We recommend that you make healthy lifestyle choices:

  • Have regular eye examinations
  • Quit smoking
  • Manage other health problems correctly
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
  • Wear good sunglasses to minimise exposure to UV light from the sun.

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s best to get checked out. Book an eye consultation with us today.