What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the clear lens in the eye and is one of the leading causes of vision impairment. While cataracts most commonly occur in those who are older, they can develop in younger people as well. Some people are born with a cataract.

These images give an impression of what someone with cataracts may see compared to someone with normal vision.

Cataract simulationNormal vision simulation

What are the symptoms?

In its early stages a cataract may not cause vision problems. However some of the common signs associated with advanced cataracts include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Glare sensitivity
  • Distortion or double vision in the affected eye
  • A feeling of looking through a veil or curtain

Who is at risk?

Those most at risk include people who have:

  • A family history of the eye condition
  • Diabetes
  • An injury to the eye
  • Exposed their eyes to sunlight without protection over a long period
  • Smoked for a period of time

Can it be treated?

When symptoms begin to appear, vision may be improved through the use of new glasses, stronger bifocals, magnification, appropriate lighting or other visual aids. In more advanced cases, cataract surgery is very successful in restoring vision.

Cataract Surgery with the newest technology (laser or phacoemulsification) takes around 15 - 30 minutes in a day surgery or hospital facility. Cataract Surgery involves removing the crystalline lens (the cataract) and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL). Surgery is undertaken one eye at a time, with at least 2 weeks in between surgeries. The surgery is performed under local anesthetic and is pain free. Vision is restored usually within a few days. Depending on the type of IOL, spectacles will be needed for reading only or not at all in most cases. 

I've got Cataracts - What's Next?

Once your cataracts have been diagnosed and a decision is made to remove them you will be booked in for day surgery. There are some decisions to be made regarding the type of IOL which will be implanted into your eye, after the cataract has been removed. 

The types of IOLs broadly speaking consist of:

  • monofocal IOL (for distance vision only)
  • toric IOL (for astigmatism correction)
  • multifocal/ bifocal/ trifocal IOL (for distance, intermediate, near vision and presbyopia correction)
  • multifocal toric IOL 

You doctor will discuss the options with you in depth at your consultation.

I've got Cataracts, but no Private Health Insurance

New Eye Vision is a service offered by the Newcastle Eye Centre to provide affordable cataract surgery in a private hospital without being placed on a public waiting list. This will also ensure that your own Ophthalmologist will do the surgery. Click here to learn more.

I've had my Cataracts removed but I still need glasses

It is not uncommon that after successful cataract surgery with your ophthalmologist you still need distance glasses for watching TV or driving a car, despite our best efforts in the pre-operative eye assessment and surgical technique.

To see clearly, light has to be precisely focused by the Cornea (the front window of the eye) and the lens to create a crisp image on the structure at the back of the eye called the retina.

A common issue with the focusing system is the problem in the shape of the cornea known as astigmatism, which causes distortion of objects. This may well have been present before the surgery, and had been previously corrected by Spectacles or Contact Lenses.

This residual astigmatism causes distortion of objects which traditionally is improved by wearing distance spectacles, often all the time.

It is possible to correct Astigmatism and other optical problems by reshaping the Cornea through use of a Laser. The treatment is called Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) and is available to you by iLaser Vision, which practices within the Newcastle Eye Centre.

Many people don’t mind wearing glasses but after PRK there is an opportunity to be spectacle independent for distance. In other words, after the laser procedure you will only need reading glasses – what a lifestyle change! Visit www.ilaservision.com.au for more information or call us to discuss.

Click here to view a fact sheet from RANZCO - full of useful information.