The transparent lens of the eye allows light into the eye and focuses it on the retina. Cataracts are caused by an alteration of protein clouding the lens, causing blurred vision that can lead to blindness if left untreated. Cataract can occur in one eye or both, but cannot spread from one eye to the other.
The following symptoms may be a sign of cataract:
- Vision that is blurred or cloudy
- Colours that seem faded
- Glare or light sensitivity
- Double vision
- Poor night vision
- Frequent changes to the prescription of your glasses or contact lenses
WHAT CAUSES CATARACTS?
The lens of the eye is made up of water and protein. In time proteins denature to clump and form small clouds. Cataract will usually develop as part of the ageing process, but can also result from eye injuries, diabetes, long term unprotected exposure to sunlight, previous eye surgery or may be genetically induced. While most cataracts are related to ageing, people of any age may be affected, even young children. If left untreated, the cataract may progress to blur vision completely.
HOW ARE CATARACTS DIAGNOSED?
Your ophthalmologist will diagnose and evaluate the extent of a cataract prior to recommending treatment. A comprehensive eye examination will be performed with an instrument called a "slit lamp", a microscope that illuminates the eye and allows the examiner to detect the presence of cataract or other conditions that may cause blurred vision or discomfort. Other tests may be required to determine the structure and health of the eye.
HOW IS A CATARACT TREATED?
Early symptoms may be improved with new glasses, brighter lighting or magnifying lenses, but once cataracts have formed, no medications, eye drops or glasses will be able to treat cataracts. Cataract surgery is the only way to remove and cure a cataract.