A cataract is a clouding or opacification of the natural lens in the eye that causes visual impairment. The development of cataract is a common part of the aging process. As a cataract progresses,it further scatters and blocks light entering the eye, causing a progressive deterioration of vision. Many people mistakenly think a cataract is like a “skin” growing over the surface of the eye, whereas it is actually opacification of the natural lens inside the eye.
Common symptoms of cataracts can include worsening glare, difficulty reading and impaired computer and distance vision. Driving at night can be particularly difficult.
The images below simulate what a person might see with normal vision compared to a person with moderate of advanced cataract.
Cataracts are more common with increasing age, especially in those over the age of 60 years. Risk factors for developing cataracts at a young age include diabetes, certain medications, previous ocular inflammation and previous eye trauma/surgery.
Cataract surgery is a common and generally very safe operation, with usually excellent visual results. It is performed as a day surgery operation in most cases, and normally takes 20-30 minutes for the operation itself. Our surgeons perform cataract surgery at private day surgeries in Randwick and Chatswood as well as public hospital surgery at Westmead Hospital and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Cataract surgery is usually an elective operation, and the need for surgery depends on when the lens opacity becomes visually significant. This is usually when a patient is having difficulty with their vision for certain activities (eg. reading, computer, driving, hobbies). The mere presence of a cataract does not necessarily mean that it needs to be removed, and there are many instances that it can be safely monitored for several years until a patient chooses to have an operation.
Our surgeons aim to give you genuine advice regarding cataract surgery, and to provide you with the correct information to help you decide if you are ready to proceed. We firmly believe patients need to make an informed decision, and should not feel pressured into having an operation. Our surgeons will personally take the time to discuss intra-ocular lens (IOL) options with you, individualising their advice to your particular situation.