Cataracts can be quite disconcerting for the sufferer. Sometimes they develop gradually so that they are not noticed. Everything can appear fuzzy, as if spectacles have not been cleaned. The sufferer may think that they’re ‘just getting older’ and yes, that is the biggest cause. The lens of the eye becomes cloudy and vision continues to become mistier.

Other symptoms are glare from bright light - sunlight or car headlights - or colour vision may be affected, with things looking more yellow.

Causes for cataracts can be diabetes, an accident to the eye or eye surgery, medication such as steroids and other conditions such as Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Treatment is surgery. The operation usually takes 30 to 40 minutes and most people go home from hospital a few hours later.  It normally takes place under local anaesthetic so the patient is awake and feels no pain. A patch will have to be worn over the eye for the first day and at night for a week.

Treatment continues for about 2 weeks, using eye drops. There are two types of drop, an antibiotic and a steroid (anti inflammatory).

A good recovery also includes the avoidance of

but these are only necessary for a week to 10 days. In addition, care should be taken if it is windy or dusty outside and when washing your hair - all to avoid getting anything in your eye.

It is quite normal to develop cataracts in both eyes. Surgery is usually carried out on the worst eye first, then 6 to 8 weeks later the other eye can be treated. If spectacles are worn it is best to wait until both eyes have been treated before getting a new pair.

While a patient has cataracts they may drive, as long as the level of vision is within the legal driving limit. This should be checked with an optometrist.

NHS Logo NHS : Cataracts

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