Ever seen a milky cloudy film covering a person’s eye? That’s the tell-tale sign of a cataract. You generally see this in older people as it’s simply one of the signs of aging. What it’s doing is preventing light reaching the back of the eye, making it difficult to see clearly. But the good news is that a simple operation can remove the cataract and restore a person’s eyesight.

What are the causes

The most common cause is simply getting older, and these are called age-related cataracts. Other contributors are smoking and over exposure to UV radiation like bright sunlight.

There can be a genetic link too and congenital cataracts are present from birth. Left untreated, they can result in permanent blindness. Cataracts can also be a complication caused by diabetes, certain drug treatments, long-standing inflammation and eye injury.

Am I at risk?

We’re all slightly at risk of age-related cataracts by simply getting older. So keep an eye out for the signs as the sooner you spot them the better. There’s no battle of the sexes though as men and women are affected equally, but when they do occur one eye is generally affected more than the other.

Cataract symptoms

Cataract symptoms tend to creep up on us gradually so they are not always easy to notice, which is certainly the case with age-related cataracts. The common symptoms are blurred and cloudy vision, seeing in dim light becomes more difficult, and bright lights may appear more glaring. Colours may start to appear different too and the world can take on a yellowish tinge. These can all get worse over many years. If any of these signs occur, it’s best to go and get checked out by a doctor or get an eye test.

What can I do?

Wearing sunglasses is one of the more effective ways of preventing the onset of age-related cataracts. Smoking should also be avoided. And those with diabetes, will find that good diabetes control will pay benefits in helping prevent cataracts from developing. Regular eye tests are a good idea to help detect problems early, and once cataract symptoms occur it’s always best to seek out medical advice.

What treatments are available?

There are various cataract treatments you can turn to. The most effective is surgical removal. This involves having the affected lens removed and replaced with an artificial one. Cataract surgery sounds scary but the procedure isn’t as frightening as it sounds. Most people also find cataract surgery to be quick and painless. However, cataract surgery isn’t the only solution. For certain conditions cataract drops can also be highly effective, and another beauty of cataract drops is that they can be applied at home.

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