Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness around the world and life-changing surgery to remove them takes less than 20 minutes. Cataract surgery is the most common operation in the UK, with figures showing that more than 400,000 procedures are performed every year.
Experts are supporting Cataract Awareness Month, which runs throughout June by urging people to get to know the symptoms and when to seek help.
LaserVision Consultant Ophthalmologist Mr Michael Tappin said: “Cataracts can severely impact people’s ability to lead independent lives but can be treated successfully to restore vision.
“Cataract Awareness Month is a great opportunity to make people aware of the symptoms and highlight the importance of regular eye exams.
“A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, similar to its function in a camera the lens of your eye helps focus light on the retina which transmits the image for the brain to process. As we age, this becomes frosted, preventing light rays from passing through it – resulting in a blurry image.”
The condition is usually very slowly progressive and hence the symptoms are gradual in onset. Symptoms include; blurred or misty vision, glare or haloes around lights, sensitivity to light and faded colours. It may also affect your ability to read and drive especially at night.
Whilst most cataracts develop as a result of ageing, factors that may increase your risk of developing the condition include; trauma, prolonged use of medications such as steroids, diabetes and a family history of cataracts.
“The procedure involves the removal of the cloudy natural lens and replacing it with an artificial one. In the past, this could only be tailored to focus the light for either distance or near vision using a monofocal lens. However, today we have multifocal lenses that can achieve both near and distance vision without the need for glasses,” explained LaserVision Consultant Ophthalmologist Mr Rakesh Jayaswal.
Surgery takes less than 20 minutes with little or no pain and is usually performed under local anaesthetic. Patients can expect to go home within a few hours and an improvement in vision may be noticed within the first few days after the surgery.
Mr Jayaswal added: “Cataract surgery is an established operation with very short recovery time and a rapid restoration of sight, giving patients the opportunity to enjoy their hobbies and daily activities without the dependence on visual aids.”