Richard’s View: Cataract

Happy New Year!

As you all must know by now I shall only be working as an Optometrist for the first three months of the year. Hopefully I shall still be writing these articles for the Littleover and Mickleover Little Books, but with a slightly different angle.

Next month I aim to write about Macular Degeneration and in March about Glaucoma, but for now though let’s talk about Cataract. We all should expect to live long enough to develop some cataract and most of us will almost certainly need cataract surgery to help us see properly well into our old age. We shouldn’t be afraid of it – those who have gone before us and experienced modern cataract surgery and intra-ocular lens implants keep telling me how wonderful and quick and successful a procedure it is.

Cataract information - what is a cataract?

Most cataracts are a clouding up of the lens in the eye. The lens sits just behind the iris in the eye and, in a younger eye at least, is flexible enough to allow the focus of the eye to be adjusted. As we get older the lens becomes stiffer and focussing consequently suffers so that whereas as infants we could probably focus on our eyelashes buy the time we reach retirement age there is no focussing power left and we have to make other arrangements to see close up clearly. With age the lens also gets less clear, sometimes from the edges inwards and sometimes they start in the middle. These central cataracts are the most annoying because they lie right behind the pupil and affect vision in all conditions whereas the more peripheral cataracts only affect vision when the pupil is large and dilated. The most common visual effects that cataracts produce are very similar to the effects that follow on from trying to see through a dirty windscreen – worse when looking towards the light and better with the light behind you.

If you find that you are often trying to clean your glasses and getting no improvement it might be that you are developing a cataract – but it might also be that your glasses simply need replacing. In which case you will shortly have an older spare pair that you can give away to charity in our Vision Aid Overseas collection box!

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