A cataract is a clouding (opaqueness) of the normally clear lens of the eye, which can interfere with vision. Many Australians will have some degree of cataract by the age of 70 years. Cataracts tend to develop slowly, and at first you may not notice any symptoms. As the cataract gradually gets larger and affects more of the lens in your eye, symptoms become more noticeable. Cataracts are one of the leading causes of visual impairment in the world. They can be removed in order to restore clear vision.
Symptoms of cataracts include:
- sensitivity to glare and bright lights;
- seeing haloes or starbursts around lights;
- seeing colours as faded or yellow; and
- blurred, foggy or hazy vision.
What causes cataracts & how are they treated?
Cataracts are most commonly caused by ageing and form slowly over many years. For many people, one of their first symptoms of cataract is increasing difficulty reading small print, even when wearing their glasses.
Cataracts are treated by surgical removal by an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon). The surgery is usually completed under local anaesthetic and patients go home the same day. The majority of patients have excellent results, and often find they no longer rely on glasses as much after the surgery.
At Westmead Eyes Optometrists we can check your eyes for cataracts, monitor the progression of cataracts, and provide referral to an ophthalmologist for treatment as required.
You have the option of doing cataract surgery privately or through the NSW public hospital system. If you have private health cover for cataract surgery, you may need to pay a gap depending on which surgeon you go to. Cataract Surgery performed in a public hospital is free, and is often done by a registrar under supervision. Wait times for public hospital surgery are approximately 9-24 months.