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Cataract Information

Please consult your doctor if you believe you may have a cataract


What is a cataract?

Cataract is clouding or opacity of the lens in the eye. The lens is located behind the iris and is normally transparent.  The lens functions to adjust the focus of the eye to give a clear image to the retina at the back of the eye.  Throughout your life, the lens keeps growing with-in the eye. Over time the lens can develop opacities that affect its ability to transmit and focus light. This is termed a cataract.

How common is cataract?

Most people will develop cataracts over their lifetime. Not everyone will be affected by their cataracts to the same extent. The majority of people affected by their cataracts will be over 60 years of age.

What causes cataract?

Several processes can cause cataract including age, ultraviolet exposure, trauma, some medications as well as medical conditions like diabetes. There are also types of cataract that are congenital or inherited.

Different types of cataract?

Cataracts can affect different areas of the lens. The commonest types involve either a  clouding of the outside of the lens or cortical cataract, a hardening and yellowing of the centre of the lens called a nuclear cataract and a frosted-glass like opacity at the back of the lens called a sub-capsular cataract.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cataract


How is a cataract diagnosed?

Once your cataract advances it can affect your vision and you will start to have symptoms of a blur, frequent spectacle prescription changes, glare or sometimes dulled colour perception.

Your ophthalmologist at Northpoint Eyecare will undertake a comprehensive examination of your eye to determine if a cataract is the main cause of your visual problem.  This will include visual acuity testing, intra-ocular pressure testing,  slit lamp examination including photography of your eye and lens, and assessment of the health of the retina, particularly the macula.

How are cataracts treated?

Not all cataracts need treatment.  This depends on how the symptoms of the cataract affect your lifestyle.  Your Ophthalmologist will discuss with you the risks and benefits to treating your cataract.  Removal of the cataract and replacement with an artificial lens, or Intra-ocular lens, is a highly successful surgical treatment performed by our Ophthalmologists.

There are numerous techniques for doing this, the most common of which is where the lens is fragmented by an ultrasound probe called phacoemulsification. This requires only very small incisions which do not require sutures. It is performed as a day surgery procedure in the majority of cases under a local anesthetic with twilight sedation.


What types of intra-ocular lenses are used?

There are numerous intra-ocular lens available today. There are mono-focal lenses that can give distance or a combination of distance and near vision or monovision. These lenses can also correct astigmatism, a problem with the curvature of the cornea.

Accommodating lenses are said to change their shape to provide distance and intermediate vision and multifocal or bifocal lenses split the light in each eye to give distance and near vision. Each has their advantages and disadvantages and the particular lens that will suit you best will be discussed with you during your consultation.

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