Lesley Cree describes “What are Cataracts?”
In this article, Lesley Cree, owner of Lesley Cree Opticians in Radcliffe on Trent, describes “What are Cataracts”, the misconceptions associated with the disorder and how to treat the condition if diagnosed.
I am often asked about cataracts by my patients and a common misconception they have is that cataracts are a “skin growing over the eye”. They are in fact an opacity of the lens inside the eye.
Cataracts are a very common eye condition and as we get older the lens inside our eyes gradually change and become less transparent.
A lens that has turned misty, or cloudy, is said to have a cataract. Over time a cataract can get worse, gradually making your vision hazy and you may also find that you need more light to read small print, or that you are dazzled more by bright lights.
A cataract is not a growth or a film growing over the eye, but simply the lens becoming misty.
The condition can be caused by a number of things, but by far the most common reason is growing older.
Most people over the age of 65 have some changes in their lens and most of us will develop a cataract in time.
Apart from getting older, the other common causes of cataract include:
- medications, such as steroids
- eye surgery for other eye conditions
- tobacco smoking
- lifelong exposure to sunlight
The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery, performed by an ophthalmologist.
This straightforward operation usually takes about 30 minutes as a day-case procedure and is done with a local anaesthetic. It will remove the misty lens and replace it with an artificial lens to enable you to see more clearly again.
Cataract surgery is available on the NHS when your standard of vision has fallen to below a certain level, or at an earlier time as a private patient. Your optometrist can advise you on the methods of referral.
It is normal for your spectacles to need changing following cataract surgery, so you will need an eye examination a few weeks after the operation.
Once a cataract has been removed it will not return. However, occasionally the sac the new lens is put into can become cloudy. This is remedied easily by YAG laser treatment, which is quick and painless.
If you are concerned with your eyesight and want to have a consultation with your local optometrist, please visit the practice to make an appointment or call to speak to one of our staff members on 0115 933 2999.