What is a Cataract?

Cataracts, their Causes, and their Treatment

The causes, symptoms, and treatment of cataracts, including details of the cataract operation itself.

A cataract is an eye lens clouding. Because of the cataract, the vision starts to be blurred because it interferes with a sight like a veil in front of the eye. Many individuals over 60 years usually have cataracts and most of these can be treated very successfully.

The lens is a clear structure behind the iris, which is the colored part of the eye. The lens helps to focus light on the retina behind the eye to form a picture. In order for this image to be sharp, the lens needs to be clear.

The effects of cataracts

Cataracts cause misty or blurred vision. Lights may be dazzling. Color vision deteriorates. Although, these eye symptoms can be a sign for another eye condition. An optometrist/optician can carry out a full diagnostic test. Regular eye tests can identify an eye condition at its beginning, and this is recommended.


Cataracts can be formed at any age, but most commonly, they affect older people. In young people, the appearing of cataracts may be caused by medical conditions such as certain drugs, diabetes, and other problems with eye health. Cataracts may also exist at birth; e.g. congenital cataracts.

There is no universal agreement about the actual causes of cataracts. Research has linked smoking cigarettes, too much sunlight exposure or poor diet with cataract development. Cataracts may be caused by other health problems such as diabetes.


The best cataracts treatment is a relatively simple surgery for removing the lens that is clouded. Some researchers have suggested that a good diet slows the growth of age-related cataracts.

The cataract operation

In the past, surgeons often waited until vision was very poor before removing the cataract. Now, the surgery is usually carried out when the eyesight starts to interfere with everyday activities.

Before the surgery, a pre-operative assessment is done by the eye team. Usually, before the operation, an anesthetic is given locally, so the patient is awake during the operation but feels nothing in the eye. The eye specialist will tell the patient what is going on throughout the procedure, and the patient will be made to feel relaxed and comfortable.

If general anesthesia is given, the patient will be unconscious for the duration of the operation.

The operation is done through a tiny eye opening with the aid of a microscope. The procedure is no longer than 20 minutes, although sometimes, a longer operation is needed.

The operation is consist of removing the lens with the cataract and a plastic lens that is clear is substituted so that the clouded eye will see clearly. The substituted clear lens is remaining in the eye permanently and its name is intraocular lens implant. The eye never rejects this lens.

Over the eye is placed a pad after the operation for protection. The operation cannot be performed with a laser, although laser treatment may be used later if the casing of the lens is becoming cloudy.

After the surgery

There is usually an instant improvement, although complete healing can take a period of a few months. Eye-glasses can be still used, especially when you need to read, as the newly added intraocular lens implant is usually set up for far-sighted vision rather than near vision.

Usually, around 2 months the patients will have to use drops fr the eyes after the operation. Most people will have the operation and return home on the same day, with instructions to not to rub or touch the eye, refrain from heavy lifting, avoid eye makeup or getting soap in the eye.

Any questions regarding cataracts and the operation can be answered by the team at the eye clinic.

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