Cataracts are a common eye condition that we often hear people talking about. In fact, a report from the University of New South Wales revealed that in 2021, there were 243,139 Australians living with significant cataracts that impaired their ability to drive. In this blog, we will address the most frequently asked questions about cataracts!
What are cataracts?
Cataracts occur when the lens of your eye becomes cloudy and affect how well you can see. While there are some other rare causes of cataracts, the most common form of cataracts develops naturally as part of the aging process. These age-related cataracts cause a gradual deterioration in vision and, in most cases, do not directly cause irreversible harm to the eye health. This means that vision can be restored through cataract surgery.
What are the common causes and symptoms of cataracts?
While age-related cataracts primarily result from natural aging, other factors such as UV exposure, medication, and genetics can influence the onset of visual symptoms caused by cataracts. Common symptoms include blurred vision, glare sensitivity, difficulty seeing in low light, faded colours, and frequent changes in prescription. The father of impressionism, Claude Monet, developed significant age-related cataracts in his 60s. Intriguingly, the drastic change in his vision and colour perception lead to an unintentional shift in his painting style. In fact, after his surgery in 1923, Monet destroyed many of the works he completed while he had cataracts.
I think I have cataracts, what should I do?
Having an eye test is the only way to accurately diagnose cataracts. If you believe you are experiencing visual symptoms related to cataracts, it is important to see your optometrist for a comprehensive assessment. Your optometrist will be able to determine whether your symptoms are caused by cataracts and discuss the available options with you. While surgery is still the only effective treatment for cataracts that have caused significant visual impairment, you may not need to undergo surgery immediately.
I have cataracts, will I need to have surgery straight away?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on how much the cataracts are affecting your lifestyle. As optometrists, we generally recommend cataract surgery when your cataracts have significantly impacted your safety and independence. However, we may suggest surgery earlier if the cataracts have substantial influence on your career, important hobbies, or lifestyle. During your comprehensive eye test, we will gather more information about your individual needs and provide personalised guidance to help you make this decision.
I don’t have cataracts yet, what can I do to prevent or delay the onset of cataracts?
While age-related changes cannot be stopped or reversed, there are lifestyle modifications that can help delay the onset of cataracts symptoms. You can wear good quality sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV damage. Quitting smoke and maintaining a healthy diet that is rich in antioxidants can help slow down the aging process in your body, and your eyes. If you have chronic health conditions like diabetes, which can increase your risk for cataracts, it’s prudent to collaborate with your doctors to manage these conditions effectively. Last but not the least, having regular eye test will allow us to monitor the change in your eyes and recommend appropriate management in a timely manner.