What Causes Cataracts?

16 April 2019

Cataracts damage the eye health of over 700,000 Australians every year. While people generally think this clouding of the clear lens primarily affects their grandparents, anybody can be impacted, even newborn babies and young children (known as congenital cataracts).

In a healthy eye, the lens filters light through the iris to the retina, helping the average person see their world in detail, thanks to the information passed to the optic nerve. Cataracts interfere with this conversation, causing misted or clouded vision and if left untreated, blindness.

Cataract Symptoms

Cataract symptoms can be very similar to other eye problems. Because the eye is highly delicate, any changes to its makeup can have unpleasant, temporary or long-lasting effects. Understanding how the eye works (or doesn’t work) will help you to understand why you or someone you know may be experiencing cataract symptoms.

Patients often report and experience:

  • Clouded and blurred sight
  • Faded colours or sudden colour blindness
  • Glare
  • A halo around lights
  • Double vision
  • Regular prescription reviews and changes
  • Multiple images appearing in one eye

Top Causes of Cataracts

What causes cataracts can be separated into three different sections – genetics, lifestyle and health. Most people develop cataracts as they get older; unfortunately, our bodies invite a bit of wear and tear over the years. Cataracts are commonly caused by:

Genetics – Inherited health issues; cataracts in the family and conditions like diabetes.

Lifestyle – Smoking; excessive alcohol consumption; nutrient-poor diet; a constant exposure to UV light; and long-term steroid use.

Biology – An ageing body; previous eye problems and congenital issues in the case of newborns and infants.

Cataract Treatment

Cataract treatment is straight forward. A surgeon removes the affected lens from the eye through a small incision, replacing the cataract with an artificial lens. Cataracts should be prioritised; even small cataracts can affect your ability to drive, read, work and see in low light conditions.

If you suspect you have a cataract, or you know somebody who’s struggling with the symptoms listed above, we recommend making an appointment with your doctor for a referral. An ophthalmologist will determine the nature and extent of your cataract, reviewing your history, symptoms and options with you before exploring potential treatments.

At Eye Specialists, we offer comprehensive and tailored cataract treatment plans to our patients, guided by your personal eye health needs. We’ll explore the benefits of both the single focus and multi focus lens and laser cataract surgery. Read more about how we approach cataract surgery here covering everything you need to know about the what, who, how and recovery time of cataract correction.

One 20-minute surgery could change your outlook quite literally!

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RANZCO - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists - The Leaders in Collaborative Eye Care
ANZSRS - Australian and New Zealand Society of Retinal Specialists
ASO - Australian Society of Ophthalmologists
ASRS - American Society of Retina Specialists

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