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What is a cataract?

It is where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, so it is difficult to see through. You may find:

  • things look cloudy or blurred
  • bright lights dazzle
  • you may see double in the affected eye

What is the lens?

The lens is inside the eye directly behind the coloured part, which is called the iris. Little muscles are attached to the lens. These move, and by slightly altering its shape they help you focus on what you want to see.


What causes cataracts?

The most common cause is ageing, but occasionally they happen because of injury, or as a complication of other conditions. Some symptoms:

  • slight blurring of vision
  • spectacles always seem to need cleaning
  • seeing slightly double
  • change of colour vision, becoming more yellow
  • difficulty with glare and bright lights

Following diagnosis and initial assessment by an ophthalmic surgeon, if surgery is indicated this is a relatively simple procedure compared to several years ago. A small incision is made in the periphery of the cornea, and tiny “keyhole” instrumentation are used to make a small hole in the front surface of the lens of the eye where the cataract has developed. The opaque lens is then broken up and removed, and a new lens in implanted into the remaining capsule. Prior to the surgery instrumentation will have been used to work out the strength of the implant required, so that a minimal spectacle lens may be used following the treatment. The whole surgical procedure takes place under a Local Anaesthetic, and typically takes less than half an hour. Drops are usually applied for 4 weeks or so following treatment, and any spectacle prescription can then be re-assessed. Most need to have at least reading spectacles made up following the surgery, and some may need no distance correction at all.