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Cataracts | Symptoms, Causes, Treatment Options

Those suffering from cataracts experience a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. The condition is very common and often inevitable as you age, with 60% of the population experiencing the visual complication as they reach their 60s.

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What is a cataract?

Cataracts are a common visual problem. Often developing very gradually, the natural crystalline lens becomes clouded, causing vision to become misty. It the most common cause of vision loss in the world. The word “cataract” comes from the Greek word “Cataracti” which means waterfall. The lens can take on this appearance when the condition is quite advanced.

The clouding of the natural lens of the eye affects us all as we age. Some of us develop this condition earlier than others but with all of us now living longer, unfortunately, this has become one of life’s inevitabilities. The longer cataracts are left to develop, the more severely they can affect the clarity of your vision. If left untreated, cataracts can eventually result in blindness.

Fortunately, cataracts are treatable, and advances in treatment mean that the problem can be dealt with very effectively through a simple and safe procedure.

Looking for more information on what sets our cataract surgery apart? Our cataract surgery brochure contains all the information you need. View our brochure page to receive your free download.

What are the symptoms?

The lens of each eye needs to be clear in order for your eyes to work properly, so cloudy lenses adversely affect your vision. In a normal eye, the clear lens allows light to reach the retina at the back of the eye, which then communicates with the brain via the optic nerve – this is how we see. However, with a cataract, less light can reach the retina, so your vision is affected.

The problem tends to develop slowly over time. Eventually, cataracts result in a gradual loss of the clarity of vision. Often, patients may complain of:

  • Cloudiness or mistiness
  • A fading or loss in the vibrancy of colour (although this tends to be a gradual symptom and less obvious)
  • Increased light scatter, resulting in a dazzling “glare” when the eye is exposed to bright light, or general sensitivity to light
  • Double vision
  • Changes to glasses prescription

Cataracts are not painful, but it is important to get your eyes checked as soon as you begin to experience any of these symptoms. By getting seen sooner rather than later, you can limit the impact that cataracts will have on your vision.

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If you suffer from cataracts and would like to discuss potential treatment options, make an enquiry or call us on 0203 369 2020.

What are the causes?  

As well as getting older, there are other factors that contribute to the likelihood of developing cataracts, although we don’t yet fully understand what causes them.

Age: Because they develop gradually over time, cataracts are much more common in older people

UV damage as a result of exposure to sunlight

Familial factors: cataracts run in families, so if close relatives suffer from the symptoms then there will be an increased risk to yourself

Steroid use

Ocular inflammation

Previous trauma

Diabetes

Smoking

Alcohol consumption

Cataract prevention

There’s no guarantee that you will be able to prevent cataracts, which are extremely common in people over 60. But cataract causes and prevention are closely linked; there are a few things that you can do to reduce your chances of developing the condition, by addressing the risk factors associated with cataracts.

  • Give up smoking
  • Protect your eyes from bright sunlight with UV protective sunglasses
  • Take care to drink alcohol in moderation
  • Keep diabetes under control with a healthy diet, exercise and medication if prescribed

What are the treatment options?

The only way to treat cataracts is through the surgical removal of the cloudy protein within the natural lens. There is no way to reverse or  “cure” a cataract.

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Cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is a very successful treatment option and is the most commonly performed procedure in the UK with over 300,000 surgeries being performed every year. The surgery takes around 30 minutes, and is performed as a day case under local anesthetic in most cases.

An ultrasound probe is used to gently break up and remove the cloudy protein from the natural lens, preparing the eye for an artificial lens to be inserted.

Read more
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Femtosecond laser cataract surgery

Additionally, it is now possible to remove cataracts using Femtosecond Laser Technology combined with ultrasound technology. This new generation of cataract surgery uses a special type of laser to help remove the cataract, reducing the manual element of the surgery. The laser, known as a femtosecond laser, is programmed to make precise incisions in exactly the right places within the cornea and lens. The cataract is then removed using a sophisticated ultrasonic device.

Read more
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JERALD

“If Apple did cataract operations, then they would do them like OCL do cataract operations. All the staff are knowledgeable and well organised. Everything went according to plan, the operation, recovery and aftercare. Many thanks for improving my eyesight.”

 

Risks of cataract surgery

Cataract surgery complications are uncommon

Cataract surgery, like all surgery, can have complications. National statistics show a complication rate of 2-3% across all surgeons. Experienced eye surgeons have significantly lower rates of complications and our consultants have audited complication rates below 0.5%. Risk of sight loss is thought to be 1/10000 based on national statistics.

Rare complications include;

  • Tearing of the lens capsule – 0.2% at OCL
  • Infection or bleeding – 0% at OCL
  • Retinal detachment – 0.1% at OCL
  • Sight loss – 0% at OCL

Longer-term issues after cataract surgery include lens capsule opacification, which occurs in 20-30% of patients after surgery. Capsular opacification is easily treated with a YAG laser capsulotomy as an outpatient procedure. Read more about YAG laser here.

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If you suffer from blurred or cloudy vision and would like to discuss potential cataract treatment options, make an enquiry or call on 0203 369 2020.

Why you should choose us for cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is a safe and effective way to restore vision and serious complications are very rare. A national statistic shows that 97% of cataract surgery patients enjoy improved vision with no complications, however at OCL Vision our success rate is 99.5%.

85% of our patients have better than 20/20 vision one month on from the procedure (the national average is 51%), and 100% of our patients have better than 20/40 vision (the legal driving standard) one month on from the procedure.

In 2018, OCL surgeons, Allon Barsam, Romesh Angunawela and Ali Mearza were voted by their peers as some of the UK’s best cataract surgeons following a National survey of eye surgeons by the Daily Mail. They are regularly consulted by industry and feature on advisory boards for new technologies. It’s a testament to our surgeons that we’re trusted the world over to test and use new technology, and that we’re involved in pushing lens and laser eye surgery to exciting new possibilities.

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