Cataracts - July 2021
By Kevin Clarke, Social Media Volunteer
I’ve only recently started volunteering for BucksVision. I'm discovering I’m not very familiar with many of the eye conditions that we can all develop. I love the idea of supporting local charities but without our support they can’t operate. Eye sight is something that many of us take for granted and so charities for this cause are not always supported as well as they should be. I find this surprising considering there are 2 million people living with sight loss in the UK!
I choose to volunteer for BucksVision as I wanted to use and develop my skills to help people. The BucksVision team have been great and have been very supportive and welcoming with me. I’m enjoying my time and find it very fulfilling to be part of such an important charity.
As June was cataracts awareness month it prompted me to learn more about this condition. I have included some information below which I hope you may find useful.
What are cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye.
Your lens sits just behind your iris, the coloured part of your eye. Normally your lens is clear and helps to focus the light entering your eye. Developing cataracts will cause your sight to become cloudy and misty. Cataracts usually affect both eyes but can affect just one eye or affect one eye before the other.
Cataracts are treated by surgery, during which the cloudy lens is removed and replaced by an artificial lens.
Do I have cataracts?
Cataracts normally develop very slowly. At first, the changes they make to your sight may be difficult to notice, but as they get worse, you’ll start to notice symptoms such as:
- You feel like your glasses are dirty and need cleaning, even when they don’t.
- Your sight is misty and cloudy.
- You’re more sensitive to light – bright light or car headlamps may glare more.
- Everything looks a little more washed out than it should be.
- Eventually, almost all people with cataracts will find that their sight has turned misty or cloudy, and things have become difficult to see all of the time.
Cataracts sometimes develop so slowly that you might not notice the changes in your vision, but when you have your regular eye test, your optometrist (also known as an optician) may detect them.
Why have I developed cataracts?
Developing cataracts is a normal part of growing older. Most people start to develop cataracts after the age of 65, but some people in their forties and fifties can also develop cataracts.
Certain things make it more likely that you will develop cataracts:
- Diabetes – people who have diabetes often develop cataracts earlier.
- Trauma – having an eye injury can cause the injured eye to develop a cataract.
- Medications – some prescription drugs can cause cataracts, for example steroids.
- Eye surgery – surgery for a retinal problem will likely lead to cataracts in the affected eye at some point in the future.
- Eye conditions – other eye conditions, such as retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma or uveitis, may also cause cataracts.
- Having high myopia (being very short sighted) may cause cataracts.
- People who have learning disabilities are more likely to develop serious sight problems but less likely to be able to successfully access eye care services than the general population
Cataracts caused by aging, medications and other eye conditions usually develop in both eyes. Cataracts caused by an eye injury or eye surgery only develop in the affected eye.
What to do if you think you have Cataracts?
Visit your optician on a regular basis and they will be able to check the health of your eyes including early identification of cataracts. Your optician will be able to refer you to a specialist eye doctor when required. They will be able to advise on treatments including surgery for conditions such as cataracts.
We’re here to help
If you or some you know is struggling with an eye condition, please contact the BucksVision Office, where the experienced and caring team can provide the help and support.
The RNIB have an excellent site which details lots of eye conditions to help you understand what they are, how they can be treated and where you can seek further help and support.