A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside your eye. It is caused by chemical changes in proteins within the lens material. Cataracts are a very common condition and are largely part of the natural ageing process in the eyes. In fact, most people over the age of 70 will develop cataracts to some extent. However, some people are more prone to developing cataracts than others.
The most common effect of a cataract is to make your vision seem blurred or hazy. At times, you may feel like you're looking through dirty glasses. Also, because cataracts scatter light coming into your eyes, you may experience problems with glare and bright light, making your sight particularly hazy on sunny days. If you drive, you may notice increased dazzle from oncoming car headlights, causing problems with night driving.
Most cataracts develop slowly and never get bad enough to need removed. However, if your cataracts do start to affect your quality of life – for example, causing problems with reading, watching TV, driving etc – then you may want to consider surgery.
In the past, sufferers had to wait until their cataracts were “ripe” before they could be operated on. Nowadays, thanks to modern keyhole techniques, cataracts can be removed more safely and at a much earlier stage.
The operation involves removing the cloudy lens from your eye and replacing it with an artificial plastic lens, known as an implant. Surgery is normally done as a day-procedure and the operation itself usually takes less than 20 minutes. Healing occurs quickly and you should notice a good improvement in vision within just a few days.
There is no proven way to prevent cataracts. But there is growing evidence that certain lifestyle habits can help slow cataract development. These include: