As an optician, hardly a day goes by where someone comes into my test room, complaining of blurred vision caused by a cataract developing in their eye(s). Cataracts are common especially if you’re over 65 but they can develop at a younger age too.
Cataracts are formed when the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy or misty. This is a gradual process that usually happens as we get older. It is important to note that a cataract is not a sign of ill health and everyone will get one at some stage in life. When we’re young, the lenses in our eyes are usually like clear glass, allowing us to see through them. As we get older, they start to become frosted, like frosted glass, and begin to blur our vision.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
If you have any of these symptoms its best to arrange an appointment with your optician:
- your eyesight is blurred or misty,
- you find lights too bright or you are affected by glare. ie car headlights and streetlights appear dazzling,
- you find it harder to see in low light or you may experience difficulty moving from shade to sunlit areas,
- colours look faded or yellowed,
- if you wear glasses, you may feel your lenses are dirty and need cleaning, even when they don’t.
Cataracts aren’t usually painful and don’t make your eyes red or irritated, but they can be painful if they’re at an advanced stage or if you’ve got another eye condition.
Who is affected by cataracts?
Cataracts mainly develop in those aged 65 or older. Younger people can develop cataracts following an injury to the eye. Some medical conditions such as diabetes, or taking some certain medications such as steroids, may also cause cataracts. Smokers are also more likely to develop cataracts than non-smokers and there may also be a link between UV rays (sunshine) and cataracts. A very small number of babies are born with a cataract.