JulEYE – Eye Health Awareness Campaign: Cataracts
A cataract is a clouding of the natural, clear lens (the crystalline lens) in the eye. This clouding process is common with age. This clouding of the lens is usually a gradual process where the normal protein structure within the crystalline lens of the eye deteriorates with age. Cataracts normally affect people over the age of 60 years, however, they can also affect people of a younger age. Babies may even be born with congenital cataracts.
What are the symptoms of a cataract?
In the early stages of cataract formation, often there are no symptoms. Once the cataract has progressed, the most common symptoms are blurred vision, glare or light sensitivity, vision distortion, double vision, and a sensation that there is a film over the eye.
How is a cataract diagnosed?
Regular visits to your eye health professional will ensure early detection of cataracts, usually before you have noticed any problems with your vision. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will perform a detailed eye examination, and will look for formation of early cataract in the eye. This is usually done by enlarging the pupils to allow an in-depth view of the interior structures of the eye.
How is a cataract treated?
If a cataract is in its early stages, often no treatment is indicated. Once a cataract in an adult eye has advanced, the only way to improve vision is with surgical extraction of the cataract. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed operation in the developed world. In an otherwise healthy eye, cataract surgery is deemed a relatively straight-forward procedure. The operation involves removal of the cataract through a micro-incision at the front of the eye, and implantation of an artificial lens inside the eye called an Intra-ocular Lens (IOL).
Cataract surgery is performed as a day procedure, meaning that no overnight hospital stay is required. Cataract surgery is performed on only one eye at a time. If the second eye also requires cataract surgery, this is typically performed a few weeks after the first operation.
The symptoms and treatment of a congenital cataract are different to a cataract that has developed in an adult. For more information on treatment of congenital cataract or infantile cataract, please contact our paediatric ophthalmologists or paediatric orthoptists at Sydney Ophthalmic Specialists.
If you would like to book an appointment with an eye specialist for a cataract check-up, please call our friendly staff at Sydney Ophthalmic Specialists on (02) 9241 2914. Please request an appointment with Dr Michael Jones, Dr Craig Donaldson, Dr Caroline Catt, or Dr Daniel Polya.
Our next article as part of the eye health awareness campaign of JulEYE will be on Macular Degeneration.