Cataracts Explained

Cataracts are the leading cause of vision impairment in the world and most Australians will develop some degree of cataract by the age of 70. Cataract is when the normally clear lens in the eye becomes cloudy, resulting in a decrease in vision.

Cataracts are painless and usually develop over a number of years, but can also worsen quickly over a few months, depending on their cause. Cataracts are usually a result of ageing. They can also be a result of long-term exposure to ultraviolet light, injury to the eye, certain diseases like diabetes, smoking and exposure to certain medication, such as corticosteroids.

In the early stages there are usually no symptoms to cataracts, but as they mature the symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty driving at night
  • sensitivity to glare and bright lights
  • seeing haloes or starbursts around light;
  • seeing colours as faded or yellow
  • blurred, foggy or hazy vision
  • Distortion or double vision in the affected eye
  • A feeling of looking through a veil or curtain
Treatment for Cataracts

In the early stages of cataracts, vision may be improved with new glasses, appropriate lighting or magnifiers. When the cataracts have matured and impact every day activities, surgery is very effective in restoring vision. It is a minor procedure, performed by an ophthalmologist, usually under a local anaesthetic in a day surgery facility.

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