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Focussing on Cataracts

Focussing on Cataracts - National Eye Health Week

Wednesday 22 September 2021

1. What are cataracts?

The NHS defines cataracts as cloudy patches on the lens which obstruct our vision. The lens is a small structure within the human eye, which focuses light onto the retina. It is very important, but sadly it can become clouded. Cloudiness develops on the lens as we get older for many reasons, such as protein build up, oxidation, injury, or more general age-related causes. This leads to the lens becoming more opaque. Consequently, it becomes more difficult to perceive colour, and our vision becomes blurry. In severe cases, it’s possible for this to result in blindness, but most patients suffer a moderate sense of blurriness which worsens over time.

2. What causes cataracts to develop?

There are many causes of cataracts, but the most common is ageing. Due to the way that our eyes deteriorate, everyone aged 50 or older has the potential to suffer from cataracts at some point. The lenses simply become more rigid as they age, and this is matched by a gradual increase in opaqueness of the lens-structure.

Cataracts can be caused more quickly in two other circumstances. These are diabetes, and previous trauma due to eye injuries or operations.

3. How long do they take to develop?

Cataracts tend to take a long time to develop, in fact their development can be so slow that patients won’t even notice it until they have a routine eye exam. General advice suggests that if you do have cataracts, an optometrist will be aware of it before you are.

4. How do they affect our vision?

The blurriness of vision caused by cataracts will have a general effect on everything we do and see. As cataracts grow worse over time, they will affect other parts of our vision, leading to a difficulty to see in more specific circumstances, as well as an aversion to bright lighting, where glare is much more easily caused.

5. How do cataracts affect our day-to-day lives?

If you suffer from cataracts, it is likely that you won’t be able to read as easily as before. Likewise, any hobbies which require finely focussed vision, such as knitting, sewing, embroidery, painting, sculpting, and model-making will be affected. In addition, your ability to see while you drive can be impacted, especially at night when brighter lights are more harshly pronounced compared to the dark ambient conditions. The increased sensitivity to glare will make it almost impossible to see the road late at night.

6. Are they treatable?

Initial treatment of the symptoms of cataracts is achieved simply enough, using glasses and contact lenses. If you smoke or drink a lot of alcohol, studies indicate that a healthier lifestyle will slow their development. Sadly however, these can only be temporary fixes, and at some point, cataract surgery will be required. This usually involves the introduction of a prosthetic lens, made of plastic.

Due to the frequency of this condition, the surgery has been developed well over time. This has led to an approximate success rate of 99%, in an operation that will often take less than 20 minutes. Furthermore, the prosthetic lenses available today are fantastic, and many patients are given a new burst of life by the colours and detail they regain through this operation.

7. How can a better light-source help?

A Serious light has a much more intense beam than your average reading lamp, allowing it to highlight a part of your vision on something you need to see clearly. The blurriness caused by cataracts can reduce your ability to see in a variety of settings, but the variability of dimmable and re-focusable lights can make a huge difference when your lens is not as malleable as it once was. The HD models are the ideal solution, with dimming capabilities and adjustable focus, allowing you to create the perfect light setting for your eyes.

Take control of your own vision, with a Serious Readers reading light.


  1. NHS Link 1.
  2. NHS Link 2.
  3. NHS Link 3.
  4. Gov UK.
  5. Fight for Sight.



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