Conditions

Cataract

Over 60% of people over the age of 60, and quite a few younger than that are affected by cataracts – it is so common that almost everyone will develop a cataract if they live long enough.

WHAT IS A CATARACT?London Eye Hospital - cataract

A cataract refers to the condition which occurs when the lens inside the eye clouds over, leading to a blurred and decreased field of vision.

It is one of the most common causes of blindness in patients over 40 and can develop in both eyes. It is estimated that over two and half million people in England and Wales suffer from visual impairment as a result of cataracts.

The clouding or misting of the lens prevents light from passing through the eye and being focused onto the retina. Vision loss is gradual as the cataract grows bigger, until eventually, all light is obstructed.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?

The job of the lens inside the eye is to focus light onto the retina, providing clear vision and
adjustment for objects far away and up close. This lens is made up of water and protein.

As we age, protein in the lens can often clump together and then begin to cloud a small area of the lens. Over time, this clouding grows gradually worse. Researchers have yet to identify exactly why this happens as we get older.

WHO IS AFFECTED?

The condition can affect anyone, but it is more likely to occur in older generations. In rare instances, childhood cataracts can develop in babies and young children.

Whilst the exact cause is unknown, there are a number of factors which may contribute to the development of the condition. These include:

  • Family history;
  • Smoking;
  • Obesity and a lack of vitamins;
  • Significant alcohol consumption;
  • Certain health conditions like diabetes, hypertension and high myopia;
  • Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and other sources;
  • Previous eye injury, inflammation or surgery;
  • The use of corticosteroid medications, statin medicines or hormone replacement therapy.

THE SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS

Understanding the symptoms will help you identify the first signs of one developing and ensure you seek out the advice of  an optician. They usually start out New-Picturevery small, and initially have little effect  on  your vision.

The most common indicators of a cataract include blurred or misty vision,   or  small patches or spots where your vision is less clear. It may be like having a  smudge or cloudy patch on your glasses.

You may also: Find lights too bright or too glaring, either from lamps,  the    sun,  or car headlights;Find it harder to see in dim  light; Experience a  brown or    yellow tinge to your eyesight;Find  colours look faded and less    clear;Experience  double vision; See a  circle of light (halo) around bright  lights.

Cataracts are not usually painful, and rarely cause irritation or redness. They are only associated with other symptoms in extremely advanced cases.

TYPES OF CATARACTS

Symptoms can be affected by the exact type of cataract you have and some signs may show sooner than others. Different types include:

  • A nuclear cataract- This is usually associated with ageing, and form deep in the nucleus (centre) of the lens.
  • A sub-capsular cataract – This is associated with people who have diabetes or have taken high doses of steroids. It forms in the back of the lens.
  • A cortical cataract- This occurs in the lens cortex and is characterised by peripheral clouding which works its way toward the centre of the lens.

The development of a nuclear cataract may actually temporarily improve your near vision for a short period of time, but this will soon worsen as the condition progresses. A sub-capsular cataract on the other hand might not show any symptoms whatsoever until it’s at an advanced stage.

TREATMENTS

In their initial stages cataracts can be treated with stronger prescription glasses and an adjustment in the brightness of lights. However, these are only temporary measures, as the condition will gradually get worse. Permanent treatment will eventually be required.

Surgery is the only effective treatment as the lens in the eye will need to be removed and replaced. If your loss of vision begins to affect daily activities, this will likely be the recommendation of your optician or ophthalmologist.

BLADE FREE CATARACT SURGERY

At London Eye Hospital, we offer state of the art laser surgery for cataracts with the Femtosecond Laser. This provides a blade-free, highly accurate procedure to patients for the extraction of the clouded lens.

Find out more about the Femtosecond Laser cataract treatment.

INTRA-OCULAR LENS REPLACEMENT (IOL)

Once the clouded lens has been removed, London Eye Hospital can replace it with the widest range of intra ocular lenses (IOL) to perfectly suit your needs.

These lenses work just like the eye’s natural lens, and are made of highly pliable, comfortable material to focus light onto the retina.

London Eye Hospital provides patients with the very latest intra ocular technologies, including Symfony, LEH Trifocal and Light Adjustable Lens (LAL).

Learn more about Intra-Ocular Lenses

Treatments available for this condition:

 

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