Cataracts are a very common condition affecting people’s eyesight and are one of the most commonly treated eye conditions. There are a number of factors which can contribute to cataracts, however many people over the age of 65 may experience age-related cataracts. Thankfully, they can be treated and that treatment can be tailored from person to person.

What are cataracts?

There is a lens that sits behind the pupil which serves to focus light onto the retina. When we’re born, this lens is transparent, allowing us to see images clearly. However, as we age, this lens can slowly become cloudy, causing vision to become misted and blurry. In extreme cases, this could cause blindness.

Think of your eye lens like it is a piece of clear glass, like a shower screen. After some time in the shower, that glass becomes steamy and hard to see through. Just like this, there is a treatment available to help restore vision and de-mist the eye-lens.

The three most common forms of cataracts are nuclear, cortical, and posterior subcapsular. The nuclear sclerotic cataract is one of the most common with the centre of the eye’s lens hardening and becoming yellow. The less common cortical cataract occurs in the outer part of the lens and is identified by the cloudy-opaque change within the cortex. Finally, posterior subcapsular cataracts occur on the back of the lens which creates problems with sensitivity to light.

All of these types of cataracts can be treated.

Causes of cataracts

While cataracts mostly occur in people over 65, there are rare types of cataracts which can form as a result of other factors. This can be congenital, occurring in people at birth, or as a result of medication which can trigger the effects of cataract; prevalent examples of this is the prolonged use of steroids or exposure to UV light. Causes can even be a result of or exacerbated by, certain lifestyle choices such as smoking and obesity. Diabetes has also been known to be a factor.

However, for most people, it is ageing eyes which causes cataracts and is an expected part of the ageing process.

Symptoms of cataracts

Cataracts are known to develop slowly over time, although the symptoms may vary depending on the individual and the advancement of the condition. Commonly, symptoms of cataracts include patients experiencing blurred, clouded vision, or even double vision. It may also change the way the eyes process light and halos around light sources may start to appear.

People with evolving cataracts might also notice that their eyes are increasingly more sensitive to light and may begin to notice colours are less vibrant. Clouded vision is caused by groupings of proteins and pigments which make the transmission of light through the lens and onto retina more difficult the more they build up.

Treatment options

During an eye examination we will assess each person for cataract, and depending on the level of cataract present and the issues it is causing to sight and lifestyle we will make appropriate recommendations. Sometimes this will be an upgrade to the strength of glasses, use of specific tinted lenses, advice on lifestyle and practical tips too, or a referral to an eye surgeon for removal. The advice will all be dependant on the level of vision and the wishes of the individual concerned.

For many people, the answer is a short surgical procedure which involves replacing the problematic natural lens with a small artificial lens. This is one of the most common procedures performed in the UK and tends to only take up to 40 minutes. The procedure requires local anaesthetic in the form of eye drops. Patients usually go home within only a few hours of the surgery.

About the surgery

While anyone may have their concerns about choosing to undergo any surgery, cataract surgery is a simple procedure which can help improve the quality of life for people from day one. For many, not knowing what will happen can be unnerving, so understanding what the procedure entails can be helpful.

In order to remove a cataract, the natural lens needs to be removed. This is done by gently breaking up the natural lens and removed via suction. Then, the natural lens is replaced by a clear artificial lens. The success rate of this surgery is extremely high.


Many people can notice an improvement in their vision immediately. However, for your eye to fully heal, it can take between six to eight weeks. While patients are generally advised not to strain their eyes by rubbing them, lifting heavy objects and bending over in general, most patients are able to continue their normal day-to-day activities within 48 hours.

One month after the procedure, we invite patients back to see their progress. We do this to determine the effectiveness of the procedure and to check whether the patient requires glasses to improve their vision further.

We do this to ensure the patient is aided through the entire process and to obtain the best possible outcome.

Preventing cataracts

While there is no proven way to reverse the effects of cataracts on the eyes, it is believed that by eating a balanced diet, eating plenty of fruit and veg, stopping smoking, and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays, can all help to reduce the speed of cataract formation

If you wish to discuss your symptoms with us or book an appointment, please get in touch by phone or email…