WHAT ARE CATARACTS?
Cataracts are often thought of by people as a veil or membrane growing in the eye, but this is not true.
When we are born, the lens of the eye is clear and transparent. As we age, factors such as ultra-violet light from the sun causes the lens to change colour. As the lens changes colour, it gets duller and this makes it more difficult to see clearly.
GRADUAL LOSS IN VISUAL QUALITY
People with cataract may notice a gradual loss in the quality of their vision, this often happens in one eye first. Often night vision, especially for driving, is affected first, and difficulties with headlights are a common complaint. People will also find their vision for daily tasks like reading and watching TV more challenging.
In some cases, there can be a change in the prescription needed for glasses due to thickening of the lens. This can result in what seems to be a short –term improvement in vision, which people often find helpful initially; but the changes usually continue until they become a problem.
In the early stages of a cataract, the proper management is to make sure that the person's vision meets their needs for daily life; for example driving, working or hobbies.
A very important step in this process is regular eye examination to ensure that vision correction (glasses or contact lenses) is as up-to-date as possible. Where a person’s vision does not meet their needs or for example for driving, a referral for medical attention to have cataracts surgically removed is the next step.
The procedure to remove a cataract is very routine and straightforward. It can be carried out in a hospital under local anaesthetic and people can be back in their own homes for the evening.