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Cataracts are formed when the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy or misty.
This is a gradual process that usually happens as we get older.
The main cause is age and most people will eventually develop a cataract in both eyes, although one eye may be affected before the other. However, smoking and exposure to sunlight have been linked to the formation of cataracts.
Many people with a cataract notice that they need to change the prescription for their glasses. You may notice that your vision is less clear and distinct. Car headlights and streetlights can become dazzling, and you may experience difficulties moving from shade to sunlit areas. Colours may look different too, and become faded or yellowed.
There are various supplements on the market which claim to help slow the progression of cataracts and some eye drops have been marketed as a treatment for them. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that any of these can prevent or treat cataracts. To try to prevent cataracts, or to stop them getting worse, wear good quality sunglasses with UV protection and don’t smoke.
If you have cataracts, you may continue to drive providing you still meet the vision standards for driving. Your optometrist will be able to advise you about this.
If your cataract is affecting your day-to-day life (for example; driving, reading or cooking), and your optometrist cannot improve this enough by changing your glasses, you can ask them to refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) for surgery. This involves removing the cloudy lens (the cataract) and replacing it with a clear plastic one. If you have cataracts in both eyes, surgery will normally be carried out on one eye at a time.
You will have an initial appointment where the ophthalmologist will assess and measure your eyes.
Most cataract operations are done using a local anaesthetic. You will be awake, but the ophthalmologist will make sure you do not feel the area around your eye. You will hear the ophthalmologist explaining what they are doing, and you may see some vague movements around your eye. The ophthalmologist will make a tiny cut in your eye to remove the cataract, and will normally insert a plastic replacement lens so that you can see clearly. This will usually take around 15-45 minutes.
You will not normally need stitches, but your eye will be covered to protect it from knocks after the operation. You will be allowed to go home the same day, but should have someone to go with you and to look after you for 24 hours after surgery. Do not drive.
You will be given eye drops to use for the first few weeks after your operation. You should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise immediately after the operation, but you can carry on with most other activities around the home as normal. Nearly all of your vision will return within two days of surgery and many people are able to return to their usual daily routine 24 hours after the operation. You should avoid eye make-up, swimming, and getting soapy water in your eyes when you wash your hair for two weeks after the operation. If you go out on a windy day, you may feel safer with sunglasses to prevent grit getting in your eye. Ask your ophthalmologist about when you can go back to work.
Your eyesight will settle down in a few days or weeks. After cataract surgery most people need to wear glasses for either distance, near vision or both. If you wore glasses before the operation you will probably find that they will need changing after the operation, so you will need to see your optometrist again for an eye examination a month after the surgery. We will be able to advise you as to when you can start driving again. You may find that it takes a few weeks to adapt to your vision with new glasses after cataract surgery. This is normal, and is due to your brain adapting to a different prescription.
If you have had a cataract removed from one eye, it is likely that you will need the same treatment for the other eye at some point in the future
For any more information please contact us