A Cataract is a clouding of the lens; the transparent, flexible section if the eye located behind the iris and responsible for our ability to focus on objects at different distances. As a person gets older, the lens begins to lose flexibility and clarity. For some patients, a mild clouding of the lens with no symptoms can go untreated for years with little problem and is not termed a cataract until it actually interferes with their vision. One of the earliest symptoms tends to be an increase in glare when driving at night or trouble seeing small details on screens, books or on television, but it may take several years to reach this stage.
Almost half the population over the age of 65 years old will have started to develop a cataract in one or both eyes and by 80 years old more than 4 in every 5 people will have cataracts or have had them removed. These statistics vary with diabetic patients who tend to develop cataracts younger while certain medical treatments and injuries can also cause early cataract formation. Although not common, some babies are born with Congenital Cataracts and if not diagnosed can affect the development of the eye, occasionally causing blindness.
For most people, the though of having a cataract is one to dread, sparking thoughts of blindness and complicated surgery and recovery. Thankfully this is no longer the case. With modern keyhole procedures and techniques, many patients will be on the operating table for as little as 20 mins and will not even be required to spend a night in hospital.
Once a cataract has been removed, most patients tend to see not only an improvement in their general sight but also in their colour vision. This is because the first stage of a cataract is the yellowing of the normally clear lens, this then takes on a blue brown hue as the cataract forms. As a fully mature, or ripe cataract, is usually white in colour but this stage of a cataract is seldom seen nowadays.