Cataracts are caused by a build of of protein in the eye that clump together and cloud the eye lens. Initially only a small part of the lens will be affected – which part will depend on the type of cataract - and as the cataract develops more of the eye lens becomes damaged.
The lens area becomes clouded and gradually less and less light is able to pass through the lens to reach the retina at the back of the eye. As the light begins to scatter through the eye, eyesight becomes more affected and the symptoms of the cataract will worsen.
Because most cataracts develop slowly, you may not notice its development for a while. Diagnosis of a cataract is usually made during an eye test. Early diagnosis of a cataract can be made during a routine eye exam and is one of the reasons opthalmologists recommend regular eye examinations (every two years for patients under the age of 50) and older people are advised to have annual eye-checks.
The advice given in the UK used to be that you should wait until the cataracts had ripened or become mature, covering most of the lens and causing significant symptoms. That advice has now changed and the message is don’t wait – have your cataract surgery as soon as the symptoms begin to prevent vision loss affecting your daily life.
If left untreated, cataracts will worsen and will result in a loss of sight in the affected eye. Left untreated, cataracts may cause other eye problems such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.
If you want to wait for surgery there are some things you can do to limit the damage caused to your eyes:
- get new prescription glasses
- wear sun glasses more often
- improve your home and work lighting
- use a magnifying glass to see more clearly
Protecting your eyes like this may give temporary relief from some of your symptoms but they won’t stop the progression of the cataract or of the cataract symptoms. UK research shows that at least 20% of cataracts will get worse over one year and 65% will deteriorate over 5 years.
For more information, contact a clinic and get a free quote.