What are cataracts?

Cataracts will affect everybody at some point in their life. Signs and symptoms often start in our 50s, although there are a few medical conditions which can cause cataract development at a younger age. The good news is that cataracts can easily be removed and replaced with intraocular lens implants (IOL). The added bonus is that these lens implants can often correct your distance vision and, in some cases, reading vision too.

Early signs of cataracts can be as simple as increased difficulty with driving at night, colours looking less vivid, and upgrading your spectacles but still not seeing as clearly as you used to. If you have a little blurriness but no difficulty carrying out everyday tasks, surgery may not be necessary. However, cataracts will get worse over time.

Because the symptoms are gradual and painless, many people don’t realise they have a cataract until it becomes advanced, and mature cataracts are more difficult to remove.

If you want to enjoy all the benefits of good vision, it makes sense to get your cataracts removed sooner rather than later, so you can:

  • Improve your golf or bowling performance and enjoyment of other activities

  • Enjoy a better reading, knitting and TV watching experience

  • In most cases be free of spectacles for distance vision and possibly reading too

  • Reduce risk of falls and accidents

About cataracts

The eye’s natural lens is normally transparent but as we age, the lens becomes cloudy and develops into a cataract. This cloudiness reduces and scatters light entering the eye so that images aren’t focused properly at the back of the eye (retina). Things appear blurred, and driving, particularly at night, becomes unsafe. Cataracts are painless, but as they slowly worsen, vision – both near and distant – becomes increasingly poor and glasses can no longer help you see well enough.

Cataract treatment

Cataracts are inevitable. But while most people consider vision loss a fact of ageing, with cataract surgery it doesn’t have to be. When cataracts start to develop, you may be able to improve your vision initially with new glasses, magnification, or better lighting. However, when symptoms progress enough to affect your daily lifestyle, it’s time to consider cataract surgery. Surgery involves removal of the natural clouded lens and replacement with a clear intraocular lens implant (IOL). In the hands of an accomplished eye surgeon, the procedure is quick and painless, taking less than 20 minutes on each eye.