30 Jul Don’t ignore the signs of cataracts
There is an eye disease that’s so common and widespread that people have been diagnosing it and treating it for thousands of years. And it’s still with us today. With Australia’s ageing population, it’s actually more prevalent than ever.
If you guessed we’re talking about cataracts, you’d be right. And there’s a good chance you have them and don’t even know. Especially if you’re a retiree – after all 31% of Australians over 55 have cataracts. Most people think the disease is the opaque, whitening of the iris of the eye, but that’s only the advanced cases. Initially, things are much more subtle.
That’s why we should take a closer look at some cataract facts and symptoms. Because when you have knowledge, you can do something about it.
With cataracts this really matters, because it is one of those conditions where early treatment can mean much better results.
Some cataract facts and figures
- Cataracts are a progressive clouding of your eye’s lens due to environmental factors, ageing and genetics.
- Other than the inevitable effects of ageing, cataracts are the number one cause of serious visual impairment in Australia. Over a million Aussies suffer from cataracts, and in most cases it is highly treatable.
- In the initial stages, you won’t notice any signs of cataracts – it takes a professional eye exam to pick it up. For some, the first sign is that your glasses prescription routinely changes.
- Signs of a more advanced but still minor case of cataracts include trouble telling the difference between similar shades of a colour as well as perceiving halos around light sources – this is usually first noticed when driving at night.
- Cataracts almost always worsen if left untreated – they generally do not stabilise by themselves. At their worst, cataracts leave the sufferer completely blind. Yet even this is usually totally treatable.
- Cataract surgery is one of the most common of all surgical procedures conducted around the world. In some countries, as much as 1 percent of the population will undergo the procedure each year. Conducted as day surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and then replaced with an artificial one. Healing is usually very rapid.
- As it is usually a low-risk operation with great results, the right time for cataract surgery is often as soon as the condition begins to affect overall quality of life. While you must consult an eye surgeon for their advice, there usually isn’t any reason to delay the procedure once the condition becomes troubling.
- Despite the disease being known to medicine for thousands of years, cataract surgeries are still being continually refined. Significant advances have been made just in the past few years.
If you’ve been reading through this lis and you have recognised a symptom or a certain fact has struck a chord with you, perhaps it is time to get your eyes checked. Early detection of cataracts means you can maintain your quality of vision – and quality of life – into the future. Why wait?
This article is not a substitute for a consultation with your surgeon. Before choosing to proceed with laser eye surgery your surgeon will have a detailed discussion with you about the right procedure and about the potential complications.
A unique mix of expertise, experience and international reputation, Dr Ron Binetter is the figure behind the Binetter Eye Centre. With more than two decades of hands-on experience in eye surgery, Dr Binetter is a specialist in cataract, lens implantation and laser eye surgery. Learn more about Dr Ron Binetter’s background and qualifications.