Your eyesight is very precious, so it's important to wear glasses or contact lenses if required and have your eyes inspected regularly by your optician. An optometrist will check your eyes are healthy and will look for signs of cataracts. Many people suffer from this eye disease but what are cataracts and how are they caused? Let's find out.
What are cataracts?
The lens inside each of our eyes assists in reflecting light onto the retina and allows us to focus on objects at different distances. When we're young, the lens is perfectly clear, but as we get older it can become cloudy – and this is known as a cataract.
When this happens, vision is usually affected as the lens can not longer reflect a clear, sharp image onto the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. As a result, sight can become blurred and colors might look different between each eye. Daily tasks such as reading and driving can become difficult and night vision can become particularly poor. Something worried if you've never encountered it before.
Cataracts can occur in either or both eyes, but are not spread between the eyes or across patients. They're common in people over the age of 60 and affect people all around the world. There are often no symptoms during the early stages, so it's really important to visit your opticians regularly for a check-up.
If your optometrist thinks you've got cataracts they'll refer you to the hospital where an ophthalmologist will examine your eyes and arrange cataract surgery. Surgery only takes half an hour under local anesthesia and will improve your sight significantly.
You'll be referred back to the ophthalmologist after several weeks and your eyesight will be closely examined. Your prescription might have changed dramatically so your eyes will be tested systematically. While you may still need glasses for reading, you might not need to wear them all the time post-surgery.
What causes cataracts?
There are many causes of cataracts including injury to the eye, a sharp blow, a chemical or electrical burn or exposure to radiation. The most common form of cataract, however, is associated with aging – though not everyone develops this eye condition. Whether you've symptoms or not, you might have cataracts so always get checked out by an eye specialist who will also check for hereditary glaucoma and other conditions.
Cataracts can be easily cured, so do not put off visiting your optometrist.