09 June 2022
What causes cataracts?
June is Cataract Awareness Month so we’re looking into all things cataracts and imparting as much knowledge as we can. Cataracts are a very common eye condition that occurs with age. They typically begin to form in your 50s-60s and gradually worsen with age. If left untreated, they can completely impair your vision but, thankfully, cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures carried out in the world. In fact, 10 million cataract surgeries are carried out globally each year, and over 450,000 of these are conducted in the UK. We’ll touch more on the process of cataract surgery later in this blog post, but first it’s important that we know how they form.
As you get older, the proteins in your eyes clump together and the eye tissues begin to break down. As this process intensifies over time, your vision becomes more impaired by the cloudiness caused. Although cataract formation is natural and not much can be done to prevent their onset, some lifestyle factors can increase the speed of their development, and the age at which they begin to form.
Factors which can affect cataract formation include:
- Alcohol consumption
- Sun exposure
30% of British adults aged 65+ have a cataract, whether it’s in its early stages of formation, or it’s a more advanced cataract requiring treatment. This highlights just how common the condition is, and reinforces the need for Cataract Awareness Month each June to discuss causes, symptoms and treatment – this is something that is relevant to millions of people.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
Cataracts are usually picked up at a routine eye test, so it’s important that you regularly visit your opticians for a check-up. They can usually pick up the presence of a cataract before you notice visual symptoms, and this then helps you to monitor for any changes to your vision over the following months.
Cataracts can have different symptoms for different people but the typical signs of a cataract include:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Halos appearing around bright lights
- Occasional double vision
- Glasses prescription changing
- Worsening night vision
- Light sensitivity
Many people live with cataracts for a number of years before they begin to affect their vision. When your cataracts have an impact on your vision on a daily basis, they need to be removed.
How can cataracts be treated?
Removing cataracts is a very straightforward process which has been performed millions of times in the UK. At Optimax, we have performed tens of thousands of cataract procedures, restoring youthful vision for our patients, and often correcting prescriptions at the same time as removing the cataract.
The purpose of cataract surgery is to remove the eye’s natural lens, which is the part of the eye that becomes cloudy due to tissues and proteins clumping together. Your surgeon will administer some numbing eye drops to ensure you don’t feel any discomfort during treatment. In fact, most of our patients report feeling just a light pressure on their eye in surgery. Your surgeon then will make a small incision and through this, they break up the cataract using ultrasound waves. The cataract is then extracted with suction and your natural lens is replaced with a clear artificial lens. This restores your pre-cataract vision. The insertion of the artificial lens also ensures that a cataract cannot form again later in life.
We offer four different types of artificial lens at Optimax. You can choose which option is best suited to your visual and lifestyle requirements, and your Optimax optometrist will also advise based on your prescription. The types of lenses we offer our cataract patients are:
- Basic cataract lens
- Monofocal standard lens
- Monofocal premium lens
- Multifocal lens
You read more about the types of lenses and what they mean for your vision here.
At Optimax, the process of cataract surgery is very simple and you’ll be in and out of the clinic within around 4 hours. This means you can rest from the comfort of your own home and return to us for a check-up 1-2 days after surgery. We’ll also see you after 7-10 days, 4-6 weeks and 3-6 months to check that your eyes are healing well. You can read more about the cataract surgery aftercare process here.
Learn more about cataract surgery at Optimax
We have been specialising in vision correction surgery since 1991 and have performed over 750,000 procedures on our patients. With 20 clinics around the UK and 9 dedicated cataract and lens surgery theatres, you’re in excellent hands with Optimax. If you’d like to learn a bit more about cataract surgery, you might find our below blog posts an interesting read: