The eye has a transparent natural lens inside (behind the iris) that can go cloudy
and opaque, and is described as a cataract. Thankfully cataract surgery can help
to improve sight.
The amount of cataract varies from slight haze, to tiny areas of opacities to a dense
Causes of cataract
There are many causes of cataracts but most common is old age, as there are more
cataracts in the elderly population.
Exposure to UV light and poor diet may contribute to cataracts. Health conditions
such as diabetes can cause cataracts to come on earlier in life and sometimes they
progress more quickly if diet or diabetes is not well controlled.
Occasionally babies or children can have cataracts called congenital cataracts. This
may be due to genetics.
Smoking can also contribute towards causes of cataract.
Certain medication can cause cataract like high doses of steroids over long period.
However do not stop using steroids before discussing it with your Doctor or eye care
Visual problems with cataracts
Cataracts can cause blurred vision or glare problems. Colours may be faded and dull.
Some cataracts may cause eye refractive error to alter such as making short sight
A change in glasses may help to improve vision in cataracts and people may be able
to carry on with normal life. Cataract may be in one eye or both - bilateral cataract,
but one eye may be better.
Cataracts may progress slowly over many years but sometimes can be rapid over months
At present time, there is no way of knowing and so regular eye tests are important.
Having a good balanced diet may help to reduce onset or speed of cataract developing.
Wearing sunglasses with UV protection or having U-V filter on clear spectacles may
help to reduce cataracts as too much UV can contribute towards causes of cataract.
Can a cataract be treated ?
Once a cataract starts to interfere with vision, a cataract operation may be performed
to remove the cloudy part of the lens. An artificial lens is then placed inside the
remaining natural lens capsule.
The cataract operation is usually an outpatient appointment and the patient can normally
return home on the same day.
The artificial lens inserted into the eye provides a suitable power that will be
decided by the surgeon depending on patients needs.
A pair of spectacles may be required after the operation in order to get the best
If you have worn glasses before, you might find that after the cataract operation,
the spectacle prescription may be very different. It can often be a lot less making
it a positive experience and may not need to wear glasses all the time. Some people
may need glasses for tasks such as driving, television or reading.
Do I need a cataract operation ?
This can be discussed by your optician or eye specialist at the hospital.
As a general guide the following info may be useful :
It is not true that people need to wait for a cataract to ripen. A cataract operation
is decided on visual problems and general health.
There is no guarantee that a person will see better afterwards as they might have
other eye diseases - but most tend to improve after a cataract operation. Some report
that colours are seen lot better and can be surprised that their cataract caused
colours to look so different !
There is always a small risk of complications from a cataract operation - as with
any surgery - and so if the person is not having problems, then it may be better
to leave alone until you feel it is worth taking that small risk with increasing
If the cataract is small, then you may not need an operation.
For some people, even a large cataract may not cause too many problems - especially
if one eye is affected less by a cataract
A change in glasses prescription can occur due to cataracts - and for some people,
new glasses may improve vision enough so that a cataract operation may not be needed
for the time being.
It will depend on how much the cataract is affecting your daily life. If there are
risks of falls, difficulty driving, or poor vision then you may wish to consider
Having said all that - for most people it is successful and are pleased to have the