Mostly they’re caused by the normal ageing process, so if you live long enough you will develop cataracts. Early cataracts may not affect your vision, but as time goes on you start to notice changes.
Other factors can cause cataracts to develop earlier. These include eye trauma, smoking, ultraviolet light exposure and some chronic diseases, such as diabetes or medications.
When a cloudy area develops in the lens of your eye, it’s called a cataract. Most cataracts are caused by the normal ageing process. This means that if you live long enough you will develop cataracts. Other factors can cause cataracts to develop earlier. These include eye trauma, smoking, ultraviolet light exposure and some chronic diseases, such as diabetes or medications.
Early cataracts may not affect your vision at all. However as they get worse over time you may notice that:
- you need to update your glasses or contact lenses more frequently
- your vision is cloudy or blurred; for example, you have more trouble reading small print
- colours look faded
- you’re bothered by glare symptoms, with sunlight or car lights appearing too bright
- you have difficulty with night vision.
Initially, you may be able to cope with these problems with new glasses, brighter lighting, sunglasses or magnifying lenses. Unfortunately there are no eye drops, medications, eye exercises or laser procedures to treat cataracts or stop them from getting worse. And once a cataract becomes severe enough to impact your vision and interfere with your ability to do the things you’d like to do, surgery will be the best option. In this procedure, we remove the cataract and replace it with a clear, artificial intraocular lens (IOL).
ABOUT YOUR SURGERY
Cataract removal is the most common eye operation and has a high rate of success thanks to the modern methods eye specialists now use. The main method used is to make a small incision and insert a probe that vibrates. The vibration causes the cloudy lens to break into small pieces which are then suctioned away. The IOL is then implanted, replacing the natural lens.
Cataract surgery is usually a day procedure performed under an anaesthetic. We will ask you about your medical history and advise you on whether to stop taking any medication, such as aspirin. We measure your eye to determine the optical power of the IOL that will replace the cloudy lens and we may give you eye drops to use before and after surgery.
If you have any questions at all about cataract surgery, don’t hesitate to ask us. We’ll be happy to explain in more detail. We also have information sheets available.
AFTER YOUR OPERATION
After your surgery, you will spend a few hours in a recovery area. Most people are then ready to leave. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home and to help you for a few days afterwards. Most people find that ordinary over-the-counter paracetamol is the only pain relief they need.
We ask you to wear an eye shield initially, then sunglasses for a short time to protect your eye.
During this period, lights usually seem more intense. During this time:
- use eye drops as directed
- don’t subject your eye to rapid movement or shocks
- don’t press or rub your eye.
We will schedule an appointment a few days after your surgery to check on your progress. You may have to restrict your activities for two weeks or so and should resume exercise and other activities with moderation. In several weeks, after your eye has healed and adjusted to the IOL, your eye will need to be tested again. You are likely to need a new prescription for your glasses.