Cataracts: Causes, Symptoms, and Modern Treatment Approaches

Eye Care

While you might not have experienced living with cataracts, understanding its impact is crucial for maintaining your visual health. With 65.2 million people globally living with cataracts, the likelihood of developing the condition is relatively high, but there are ways to prevent and treat it. Rest assured whilst cataracts are the leading cause of blinded in the world, this applies to under-developed countered who do not have access to care as we do.

In this blog, we’ll explore what cataracts are, their causes, available surgical treatments, and proactive measures you can take to keep your vision clear and cataract-free. We want to provide you with knowledge to protect your eye health for the future.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are an eye condition where the lens inside the eye becomes cloudy, causing blurry vision and making it difficult to see clearly. It’s like trying to look through a foggy window.

Cataracts often develop slowly over time and can affect one or both eyes. They are more common as people get older but can also occur due to other factors like injury, certain medications, or medical conditions.

Vision without cataracts:

Vision with cataracts:

What causes cataracts?

Cataracts can be caused by various different factors, including:

  • Ageing (most common cause)
  • Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes
  • Eye injuries
  • Smoking
  • Prolonged use of certain medications
  • Genetic factors
  • Previous eye surgery or inflammation.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is important to get your eyes checked by a professional immediately, you may have cataracts.

  • Blurred or cloudy vision
  • Difficulty seeing in dim or low-light conditions
  • Sensitivity to glare, particularly from bright lights
  • Halos or glare around lights, especially at night
  • Changes in colour perception or faded colours
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Frequent changes in glasses or contact lens prescription
  • Difficulty seeing details or small print
  • Seeing ‘halos’ around lights
  • Diminished night vision
  • Frequent prescription changes in glasses or contact lenses
  • Vision that worsens despite using brighter lighting or stronger glasses.
  • Or none! Early stages will give no symptoms.

The impact of cataracts on everyday life

Cataracts can impact everyday life by causing vision problems that make it difficult to perform routine tasks. Tasks like reading, driving, watching TV, or recognising faces can become challenging due to blurred or cloudy vision.

Activities that require clear sight, such as cooking or using electronic devices, can also become more difficult. Some individuals with cataracts may find it necessary to leave their job if it requires sharp vision, such as pilots, drivers, or precision workers, as the condition can significantly impair their ability to perform tasks safely and effectively.

This can even impact the mental health of the sufferer, as it can limit independence and reduce the quality of their life.

How are cataracts detected?

Cataracts are typically detected through an eye exam conducted by an optometrist. This examination may include tests such as visual acuity tests to measure clarity of vision, a slit-lamp examination to examine the eye’s structures, and a dilated eye examination to assess the condition of the lens. Specialised tests like Anterior optical coherence tomography (OCT)  will also be used to provide detailed images of the eye’s internal structures. Cataracts arise near the front of the eye, but we need to check the back of your eyes as well.

It is important to get your eyes tested regularly as eyesight checks are essential for detecting and treating cataracts early as they give optometrists the opportunity to monitor changes in vision health and eye health over time. Early detection means treatment can be offered in a timely manner, which can help prevent further deterioration of vision.

What is very important is the optometrist rules out other eye conditions which you think may just be cataract symptoms only, cataracts are a normal change after the age of 60 but you can also develop other eye conditions such as Glaucoma or macula disease which are more important to treat and manage early.

Detection is key, but not all need cataract referral. Typically surgical input is required when the cataracts affect the quality of life or your vision cannot be improved to the level of vision you require with spectacles. As all surgery, there is small risk of complications.

What does cataract surgery entail?

Cataracts are typically treated through cataract surgery. During the surgery, a surgeon removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with a clear artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL).

This surgery is one of the most commonly performed and successful procedures worldwide and the NHS offers cataract surgery as a part of its healthcare services. During the surgery, the cloudy lens is broken apart and removed using ultrasound or a laser, and the artificial lens is then implanted in its place.

We here at Safarian and Simon can help prepare you for your cataract surgery either via the NHS route or private, we have a team of excellent private cataract surgeon who can offer a more tailored IOL. Many cataract patients can develop dry eye post-surgery, so treating this prior surgery will give a better surgical outcome.

We also for many years have been able to assess post operative outcomes of cataract surgery through our technology and training.

How to prevent cataracts

We understand that our vision and eye health is precious, and it can be worrying to think about eye conditions like cataracts. However, there are measures you can take to protect your eyesight and minimise the risk of developing cataracts.

  • Wear sunglasses that block UV radiation when outdoors
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Control underlying medical conditions like diabetes
  • Maintain a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Protecting your eyes from injury.

Book an eye check-up with your optometrist

Regular eye tests are crucial for early detection of eye conditions. Our team is comprised of the best optometrists in London, who possess specialist skills and technology to identify early signs of eye diseases, ensuring prompt intervention and optimal eye health.

If you’re looking to safeguard your vision, visit Safarian & Simon to get your eyes tested and ensure optimal vision health.

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