A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens of the eye. The clouding of the lens by the cataract scatters and reduces the amount of light passing through the lens of the eye to the retina resulting in poor vision that can manifest in a variety of ways.
These may include but are not limited to:
- General blurring or glare
- Ghosting or multiple images
- Difficulty reading and writing
- Difficulty with night driving
- Rapid changes in spectacle prescription
In the early stages, cataracts may not be bothersome and therefore surgery is not required. When the effects of cataracts interfere with your daily activities, or when the cataract becomes so advanced that prescription spectacles no longer help, surgery can be considered.
Cataracts may develop due to a variety of factors including:
- The natural ageing process
- Prolonged exposure to UV light
- Eye trauma
- Diseases such as diabetes
- Long-term use of some medications (particularly cortisone)
- Hereditary factors
Approximately 25 per cent of people over 65 years of age will have some cataract formation.
Cataracts can develop in both eyes but the rate at which they develop in each eye often varies. Currently the only means to correct a cataract is surgery and it is one of the most common and successful surgical procedures in Australia.