The impact of cataract progression… 

And when to know it’s time to regain clear vision! 

When we are young, most of us have nice clear lenses. However, as we age, the lenses in our eyes can become denser and harder to see through, and as a result the clarity of our vision is impacted.  

This is a completely normal phenomenon and is often due to cataract formation, which is when the natural lense of the eye becomes cloudy.   

 Living in sunny Australia, cataracts are common, and if we live long enough it is likely we will all have some cataract damage. These cloudy formations in the eye’s lens can gradually obscure vision to a point where it affects your daily life in varying degrees. 

Understanding when it’s time to address cataracts and seek assistance by ophthalmic professionals to regain clear vision is important and can lead to an improved visual acuity and therefore lifestyle.  

In this blog, we explore the causes of cataracts, where to seek help, guidance and a diagnosis, the treatment process, and expected outcomes of cataract surgery. 

Understanding Cataracts 

Cataracts develop when proteins in the eye’s lens clump together, leading to cloudiness and vision impairment. While aging is the primary factor contributing to cataract formation, other factors such as genetics, diabetes, prolonged sun exposure, smoking, eye trauma, and long term use of certain medications can also play a role. 


Cataracts are a natural part of aging, however cataracts will progress at different rates in each individual and genetics as well as lifestyle choices can help delay cataract onset and progression. Tactics to delay cataract progression includes: 

  • protecting your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses 
  • maintaining a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and vitamins 
  • avoiding smoking 
  • managing underlying health conditions such as diabetes  
Recognising the signs and knowing when its time to seek specialist medical advice 

Knowing when it’s time to address cataracts starts with being aware of their visual impacts on visual acuity and ability to undertake everyday tasks. Symptoms of advancing cataracts may include: 

  • General blurring or glare 
  • Ghosting or multiple images 
  • Difficulty reading and writing 
  • Difficulty with night vision and driving at night 
  • Rapid changes in your glasses and contact lens prescription 

Cataracts can develop in both eyes at different rates. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to consult with an optometrist first for a comprehensive eye examination. 

Diagnosis and referral 

During a routine eye exam, your optometrist can detect the presence of cataracts through various tests, including visual acuity tests, slit-lamp examinations, and dilated eye exams. These tests are all painless and conducted without the need for any sedation.  

For those people who are finding that cataract symptoms are impacting the ability to undertake daily activities, the optometrist will provide you with a referral to a specialist cataract ophthalmologist for a more detailed clinical assessment.   

More detailed testing  

An ophthalmologist will undertake a more detailed clinical assessment of your cataracts to understand if surgery is recommended, provide you with time to consider the procedure carefully, and allow you to ask your doctor any questions you may have.  

At this assessment, your eyes are examined using advanced technology and measurements of the shape and length of the eye are taken to determine and design your treatment plan and the specifications of the artificial lens (IOL) best suited to your unique eye. 

Once again, this testing is painless and done without any sedation, however you will be unable to drive after your assessment due to drops used to dilate your pupils and so it is recommended that you have someone attend with you, or arrange for a member of your family or a friend to collect you at the end of your appointment. 

What to expect on the day of your procedure 

Cataract surgery is one of the most routinely performed, and successful surgical procedures performed today. It is a day procedure, usually performed under anesthetic drops and sedation, and on most occasions the patient can go home without any stitches or a patch over the eye. Vision will improve rapidly over the next 48-72 hours. 

Usually taking around 10-15 minutes for the surgery itself, you can expect to be at the Centre for 2-3 hours in total before returning to the comfort of home and rest.  

You will need someone to drive you home and a responsible adult to stay with you for 24 hours. The sedation provided promotes sleep and it is recommended that shutting your eyes and getting some rest is the best way to aid recovery in this first 12-24 hours after surgery. 

What to expect from recovery 

After the procedure your vision will improve rapidly over a 24 to 72 hour period, so you can return to normal activities when comfortable to do so. This includes watching TV, reading, writing and moderate exercise. However, you should not drive for at least 24 hours and avoid swimming and gardening for at least 3 days after surgery. 

Post-operative consultations with the surgeon are scheduled for the day after the procedure. At this appointment your doctor will check your eyes and ensure they are healing as they should. This also provides you the opportunity to ask them any questions you may have. Generally, only one eye is treated at a time and so if both eyes are having surgery you may have your second eye procedure on this next day. 

One week after surgery you will see your doctor again for a second checkup. Follow-up consultations by your regular optometrist is recommended 4-6 weeks after this, and then every 1-2 years, unless otherwise advised. 

In conclusion 

As we age cataracts may cloud our vision. When this interferes with daily activities it is time to seek ophthalmic advice and consider surgery. Proven, routinely performed, and with high success rates, this timely intervention and appropriate treatment can restore clear vision.  

If you suspect you may have cataracts or are experiencing changes in your vision, don’t hesitate to first book an appointment with your optometrist who will be able to assess your eyes and refer you to a specialist cataract ophthalmologist for further testing. 

Adelaide Eye & Laser Centre have several specialist cataract and complex cataract ophthalmologists who are supported by a highly skilled ophthalmic clinical team and customer support staff and are an excellent choice for those looking to benefit from cataract surgery. 

 If you would like to find out more about cataracts click here or alternatively, please do not hesitate to contact us or seek a referral to our care. 

Book complimentary laser assessment

To understand your best laser options we provide either a tele-consultation or in-house assessment that is no cost to the participant. Provided by a skilled refractive counsellor from ParkView Day Surgery, our affiliated day surgery facility, during this appointment we are able to refine what your personal eye solution is, and provide you an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

Are you suitable for eye laser surgery?

Not all people are suitable for laser surgery and a thorough examination with an Ophthalmologist is necessary to determine suitability, however, there are some general guidelines and questions which can provide an initial indication of suitability. Take the suitability test and take your first step to a clearer brighter future.

Your questions answered here

We understand that having eye laser surgery is an important decision and that you may have questions about the procedure, your immediate recovery and what you can expect in the days, weeks and months after surgery. We have answered as many as we can here.