A cataract is not a growth, but rather a clouding of the normally transparent and flexible lens of the eye. This condition usually develops over some time and interferes with light entering the eye, which affects a person’s ability to see clearly. If left untreated, people with cataracts may eventually go blind. Both eyes may be affected, although not usually to the same extent.
What causes cataract?
Cataracts are caused by the proteins in the eye’s lens breaking down and clumping together. This is part of the ageing process, so it’s normal for older people to develop cataracts.
Factors that increase the chance of developing cataracts include:
- Age (60+)
- Eye trauma
- Prolonged use of steroids
- Previous inflammation and infection in the eye
What are the symptoms of cataract?
Cataracts are not painful and often don’t cause noticeable changes in the early stages. As the condition progresses, symptoms can include:
- Blurred, cloudy or dim vision
- Difficulty seeing at night or in low-light situations
- Being sensitive to bright lights and glare
- Seeing halos
- Needing stronger glasses and more frequently
- Colours appearing faded or yellow
- Double vision in the affected eye.
Why does cataract require surgery?
Cataracts cannot be treated with glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery like LASIK or SMILE. Treatment of cataract requires surgery on the affected eye to remove the clouded lens and insert a replacement artificial intraocular lens.
Preparing for cataract surgery
Your first appointment with a specialist cataract surgeon will take 1 to 2 hours and involves:
- A thorough eye exam to assess your suitability for surgery
- A discussion about which replacement lens best suits your needs, as well as the benefits and risks of surgery
- Scheduling your surgery. Cataracts are generally not removed at the same time – the operations are performed around two weeks apart to help with the recovery process
- Providing detailed costs for the procedure, including any out-of-pocket costs not covered by Medicare and private health insurance. It is strongly advised that you bring a referral from your GP or optometrist to:
– Inform your surgeon of your visual symptoms
– Enable you to claim part of your fees as a rebate from Medicare and/or private health insurance (depending on your level of cover).
Dr Patrick Versace
With over 30 years’ experience in Ophthalmology, Dr Versace is a leader in ophthalmic surgery in Sydney, Australia. Specialising in cataract and refractive surgery, Dr Versace uses a personalised, empathetic approach, recognising each patient is unique. Dr Versace is committed to using the most technologically advanced techniques to ensure the best possible patient experience and outcomes.