The incidence of cataracts is on the rise as the number of ageing Australians grows.
This condition of the eye can lead to seriously impaired vision if not addressed, according to Vision Eye Institute ophthalmologist Dr Andre Horak.
Dr Horak stresses that you shouldn’t learn to live with less-than-optimal vision – especially when it comes to cataracts.
Here he shares eight reasons why you must not ignore deteriorating vision:
- 80 per cent of world blindness is avoidable
Some eye diseases can cause subtle changes to vision that gradually get worse and eventually lead to blindness. One of the most common examples is cataracts, where the naturally clear lens in your eye becomes cloudy. The good news is that this condition can be treated.
- Cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment in Australia
Some 30 per cent of Australians have cataracts. Because they are common in older people and our population is ageing, the prevalence of cataracts is increasing. People who smoke, use steroids, have diabetes and those who have had previous eye trauma are also at increased risk of developing cataracts.
- Frequent changes to your glasses prescription may be a sign of cataracts
As the lens gets cloudier you may need stronger glasses or a contact-lens prescription. You might also need magnifying lenses or increased lighting at home to help you see. If you find that your prescription is changing regularly, consider having your eyes examined for cataracts.
- Difficulty distinguishing between similar colours is another sign of cataracts
In addition to causing cloudy and/or blurred vision, cataracts can affect how you see colours. If you notice that colours are appearing faded or have a yellowish tinge, your night vision is poor or you have increased sensitivity to glare, you may be developing cataracts.
- Deteriorating vision may be affecting your quality of life
As cataracts develop, you may learn to live with reduced vision by changing your lifestyle. This might include avoiding outdoor activities, hobbies such as sewing, reading or cooking, or even driving (especially at night).
- Even subtle deterioration in vision due to cataracts can be treated
In the past, it was considered normal to wait until cataracts were quite mature and significantly affecting vision before they were operated on. The reason for this was that early surgical techniques involved removing the cataract in one piece. However, we now use ultrasound and laser technology to break up the cataract before removal. In fact, it’s actually better to operate on an immature cataract because we know that surgery time is shorter and patients recover quicker if we get in early.
- Cataract surgery is a very common surgical procedure
It involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens, so you can see clearly again. It is a quick and generally safe procedure that can be performed in day surgery.
- The right time for surgery is different for everyone
Many people with early-stage cataracts can manage with prescription glasses. But cataract surgery may be necessary when glasses no longer improve vision, or if you want to restore your colour perception. If your cataracts are affecting your lifestyle and ability to do everyday activities, it might be time to consider having them removed. If you’re not sure about when to have cataract surgery, talk to your optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Do you suspect that your glasses are not improving your eyesight? If you have had cataract surgery, how would you describe your vision afterwards? Would you recommend the surgery to others?
This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.