Cataracts Explained!

Cataract In Eye

A cataract is when the crystalline lens inside your eye becomes opaque, or cloudy and no longer transparent. This can occur at birth (congenital cataract) or following an accident (traumatic cataract).

The most common type of cataract forms just as part of the normal ageing process and is mainly due to the accumulation of UV light exposure over the whole of your life.

Proteins gather together inside the lens and once enough of them ‘clump’ together they will begin to make your vision less clear or a bit hazy. In the early stages your optometrist may refer to these as ‘lens opacities’ and will simply note them and monitor their progress with subsequent eye examinations.

As this process progresses, more and more of the lens area is affected. The degree and position of the unclear area will have an effect on how severe your vision is affected. If they are forming at the outer edge they will be more troublesome than if they form more centrally. The quality of your vision will progressively deteriorate as the cataract develops causing a hazy vision, like looking through a fog. Bright light will be more difficult to cope with, just like putting headlights on in the fog makes things worse.

Once your optometrist determines the cataract(s) is detrimentally effecting your vision and your lifestyle, they will refer you for cataract surgery. This is normally done as a day patient and is considered a fairly routine operation these day. However, it is a delicate and very precise procedure often leaving you without the need to wear spectacles for long distance and only needing spectacles for close-up tasks such as reading or using your mobile phone.

The operation involves the removal of the cloudy lens and replacing it with a transparent, clear man-made lens (Intra Ocular Lens, IOL) The lens is removed through a very thin tube in a small incision into the eye. The lens is then broken up into very small pieces and is ‘vacuumed’ out through the tube. The very tiny IOL lens is folded up and injected into position and then very carefully unfolded into position where the original lens was.