Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens in your eye. Most cataracts develop slowly, however the pace at which they cloud can vary. There are twelve types of cataracts and they fall into four categories.

Risk factors

  • Increasing with age
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive exposure to the sun
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Previous eye injury or inflammation, surgery
  • Prolonged use of certain medications.
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

Reducing the risks

  • Regular eye examinations
  • Stop smoking
  • Manage health problems such as diabetes
  • Choose a healthy diet that has plenty of vegetables and fruits.

Symptoms

Nuclear cataracts

These affect the centre of the lens. They gradually become progressively yellow and may become brown, making colour identification difficult. They will affect your distance vision more than your near and will increase the glare during night time – such as glare from car headlights. You may even experience temporary improvement in your reading vision. Sometimes double vision can occur in this form of cataract and others.

Cortical cataracts

Cortical cataracts begin as whitish wedge-shaped streaks on the outer edge of the lens. As they develop they extend into the centre of the lens. You may notice your vision is slightly blurred, colours appear washed out and you are affected by glare.

Posterior subcapsular cataracts

This form grows faster than other forms of cataract and starts as a hazy area at the back of the lens, right in the centre. It often makes reading more difficult. You might experience halos around lights at night.

Congenital cataracts

Some people are born with cataracts or develop them during childhood as a result of possible genetic conditions, intrauterine infection or trauma. Congenital cataracts don’t always affect vision.

Treatment

When your prescription doesn’t make your vision clear enough and impedes your activities – for example, your vision stops you from driving; then a referral can be made to the NHS for you to have cataract surgery. If it is decided that surgery is right for you, the clouded lens is replaced with an artificial one. For some, the use of an artificial lens is not possible. So, the lens is removed and glasses or contact lenses are provided to correct your vision. You can consider private cataract surgery where the choice of lens implant and the timing of your operation is usually much wider.

Preparation before the operation may include treatment for your dry eye blepharitis to improve post-operative recovery.

Our Eye Examination

We will undertake a series of tests to check your vision including your symptoms and history. Looking into your eyes using a slit lamp with a powerful microscope allows us to observe the front of your eye including your lens in detail. We routinely dilate your pupils as this gives us the widest view. You will be tested on the chart and asked to look through a variety of lenses using our phoropter head. Traditional methods of refraction are also available. Measuring your vision allows us to identify changes and how the cataract is impacting part of your vision, should you have one. Choosing an eye care package allow us to undertake additional tests to rule out other conditions, as cataracts can stop the interior of the eye being seen clearly.