Skip the primary navigation if you do not want to read it as the next section.
Skip the main content if you do not want to read it as the next section.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is clouding or opacity of the lens inside the eye. It is useful to learn about how the eye works in order to understand what a cataract is.
Inside the eye, behind the coloured part (the iris) with a black hole in the middle (the pupil), is the lens. In a normal eye, this lens is clear. It helps focus light rays on to the back of the eye (the retina), which sends messages to the brain allowing us to see. When cataract develops, the lens becomes cloudy and prevents the light rays from passing through.
What symptoms do cataracts cause?
Cataracts usually form slowly over years causing a gradual blurring of vision, which eventually is not correctable by glasses. In some people the vision can deteriorate relatively quickly. Developing cataract can also cause glare, difficulty with night-time driving and multiple images in one eye which can affect the quality of the vision.
Do cataracts spread from eye to eye?
No. But often they develop in both eyes either at the same time or one after the other with a gap between.
Has my cataract been caused by overuse of my eyes?
No. Cataract is not caused by overuse of your eyes and using your eyes when the cataract starts will not make it get worse.
Are there different kinds of cataract?
Yes. Most cataracts are age-related, but other examples include congenital (present at birth), drug induced (steroids), and traumatic (injury to the eye).
Is there a link between diabetes and cataracts?
Yes. Cataract is more common in people who have certain diseases such as diabetes.
Are cataracts just a part of getting old?
Most forms of cataract develop in later adult life. This is called age-related cataract, and can occur at any time after the age of 40. The normal process of ageing causes the lens to gradually become cloudy. Not all people who develop cataract require treatment.
Can children have a cataract?
Yes, but this is rare.
I didn’t know that I had a cataract until my optician told me – is that normal?
At first, you might not be aware that cataract is developing and, initially, it may not cause problems with your vision. Generally, as cataract develops over time, you start to experience blurring of vision. In most cases, eyes with a cataract look normal but, if the cataract is advanced, your pupil may no longer look black and can look cloudy or white.
I feel that I need to go to the optician more often to get new glasses.
You may need to get new prescription glasses more frequently when the cataract is developing. Eventually, when your cataract worsens, stronger glasses may no longer improve your sight and you might have to hold objects close to your eyes to see them.