Cataract is a very common eye disorder where cloudy patches develop in the lens of the eye. This most commonly occurs with advancing age but can also be due to trauma or in rare cases babies can be born with cataracts.
Causes of Cataract
Cataracts are most commonly caused by gradual everyday exposure to ultraviolet light. Protecting your eyes with sunglasses can help slow the progression of cataracts but cannot make them get better. Sunglasses can helps with glare produced by the cataracts making the vision clearer and more comfortable. Certain medications such as steroids can also make cataracts develop quicker.
As cataracts usually develop very gradually, the symptoms are often not very dramatic. Most people will notice a gradual reduction in the quality of the vision especially in the distance. Often this effects driving and watching TV. You may also notice an increase in glare, making night driving more difficult. Cataracts usually do not cause any pain or discomfort, they will usually only effect the vision. They can also cause the spectacle prescription to become more changeable, particular causing people to get more short-sighted/less long-sighted and/or increase the astigmatism in the prescription. This can often be easily corrected by a change of spectacles, making your vision much better.
As the cataract inhibits the travel of light to the back of the eye, it needs to be removed to make the vision better. An operation is needed to remove the lens from the inside of the eye and replace it with an artificial lens. This is a pretty straightforward operation lasting only about 20-30 minutes and only requiring local anaesthetic. Most people are in and out of the hospital in 3-4 hours. As with all operations this is not without it’s risks, but generally cataract operations are one of the most successful operations on the NHS.
The NHS in Devon will only go ahead with this operation when the vision has reached a certain level, usually around the driving limit. Until the cataract reaches this point our goal at Pilgrim Optical is to monitor the cataract, keep your vision as good as it can be by keeping the prescription up to date and making sure all other aspects of the eyes are kept healthy.
NHS – Age Related Cataracts