A Cataract is a clouding or hazing of the lens inside the eye. The lens is a transparent body that lies just behind the pupil. In the early stages of a cataract, only part of the lens becomes cloudy and symptoms include blurring of vision, glare, especially in bright sunlight, a dimming of colour vision and sometimes doubling of vision. Cataracts are extremely common as we get older and often form as part of the natural ageing process, like greying of hair, although they can be due to diabetes, injury and certain drugs. There is some evidence that taking anti-oxidants such as vitamins A, C, E and selenium may prevent development of cataracts, but once the cataract has started it is unlikely that these will make any difference.
The only way to treat a cataract is by a small operation to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a plastic lens, called a lens implant. Nowadays, it is a relatively simple procedure usually performed as a day case under local anaesthetic, which means you can go home the same day. With modern techniques, cataracts can be removed at any stage of their development, so you don’t have to wait for the cataract to become ripe or ready. Generally if you use the NHS there is a waiting list for the operation.
When we examine your eyes and notice a cataract that is causing problems to your vision, we refer you to your GP, who will then recommend if it is appropriate for you to see an Ophthalmologist (eye doctor) who assesses your eyes and discusses the options available to you.