What Are Cataracts?

What Are Cataracts?

Written by Shannon Smith on .

Cataracts: most common vision problems

Cataracts are one of the most common vision problems in the world, particularly within the elderly population. Below we answer some of the most common questions related to cataracts.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are cloudy areas within the lens of the eye, which result in blurred vision. The worse the cataracts, the worse the vision. They can develop in either one or both eyes, but are typically more severe in one eye than the other.

As cataracts worsen, the affected person will find it increasingly difficult to focus on objects. Once it gets to a point where their everyday life is affected, surgery is usually required to remove the cataracts.

There are two types of cataracts - age-related cataracts (the most common form) and childhood cataracts.

Am I at risk of cataracts?

Everybody is at risk of developing cataracts, but the elderly are the highest-risk group. It is estimated that over 50% of men and women over the age of 65 have some form of cataract, with that number increasing with age.

Although age is the main risk factor for cataracts, other factors that may put you at risk include:

  • Family history
  • Diabetes
  • Long-term exposure to bright sunlight
  • Previous eye injury

How are cataracts diagnosed and treated?

In the first instance, cataracts are diagnosed by an optometrist. Your Toowoomba optometrist may conduct a range of eye exams including a visual acuity test, slit-lamp exam and retinal exam to assess whether cataracts are present.

In the early stages of cataracts, surgery is not always required. Your Toowoomba optometrist may give you a range of things to try that will minimise discomfort. These include: using a magnifying glass for reading, switching to halogen lights in your home and ensuring you have an accurate glasses prescription.

If surgery is required it will be performed by an eye surgeon (ophthalmologist), and the procedure is relatively quick and straightforward.

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