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What is Cataract?

Cataract is the world's leading cause of age-related blindness.

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye, which affects vision.

Symptoms of cataract

Cataract causes blurred vision. Clarity of vision worsens with cataract development, and a cataract sufferer will have significant problems with glare and poor night-time and colour vision. The symptoms of cataract are cloudy, blurred vision, as if the sufferer were looking through a dirty or frosted window.

Causes of cataract

Cataract is largely an age-related condition (although other types of cataract exist, such as injury-related or congenital cataracts). It is a clouding of the lens in the eye. Light is focused as an image on to the retina at the back of the eye, and enables us to see. The lens is initially transparent, but as we age it can become cloudy and discoloured.

Treatment of cataract

The only way to treat cataract is through surgery. Cataract surgery is very common and is performed by an ophthalmic surgeon replacing the lens in the eye with an intra-ocular (artificial) lens. However, the intra-ocular lens cannot focus on objects in the same way as a natural lens can, and so glasses must usually be worn for reading, following surgery.

Cataract surgery carries significant financial cost, to the economy and to the patient. Modern cataract surgery is largely very successful; however, there are associated risks, such as retinal detachment (1 in 1,000 cases).

Prevention of cataract

Preventative measures can be taken throughout one's life to help prevent or delay the onset of cataract. There are known risk factors for cataract, and you can reduce your risk if you modify your risk factors accordingly.