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A Guide to Cataracts

Many of us will experience a cataract during our lifetime. We see patients on a daily basis with this condition and surgical treatment for cataracts is the most common operation carried out in the UK today.
Why do cataracts occur?
A cataract occurs when the crystalline lens in your eye becomes cloudy. They can form at any age but are often associated with getting older. In younger people they can form as a result of an injury, illness, long term condition or as a side effect of medication. There is also evidence to suggest that over exposure to UV light can be a cause.
What are the symptoms?
Cataracts are painless and develop slowly over time. At first, you may experience a slight haze which can become completely opaque in more advanced stages. Common symptoms can include:
  • Blurred or hazy vision
  • A lack of definition in colours
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Poor night vision
  • A ‘halo’ effect around lights
  • Regular changes in prescription
What is the treatment?
In the early stages, changing the prescription in your glasses can often help and we will initially just monitor the progress of the cataract. As symptoms progress, the most common form of treatment is surgery. Although surgery can seem a daunting prospect for many people, cataract surgery is the most common surgery performed in the UK, with over 300,000 procedures carried out a year. The surgery is a relatively straight forward procedure lasting around 30 minutes.
It involves the eye’s natural lens being replaced with a plastic intra ocular lens implant (IOL) and is carried out under a local anaesthetic without the need for an overnight stay.
What next?
Around 2-3 weeks after surgery we will perform an eye examination and new spectacles will be needed after your final check up at the hospital.

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