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Cataract: The Treatable Blindness

Like wrinkles on a person's skin, cataracts occur as one ages. Cataracts may happen to one who is in their 50s or they may not happen until one is 70. Find out more about this common ageing problem from Dr Lee Jong Jian, Specialist in Ophthalmology & Consultant, Raffles Eye Centre.

What is cataract?

Cataract is the clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Being most commonly found in the elderly, cataract can be a serious problem to them as it will alters their vision. By altering their perception of depth and distance, it can cause them to fall and potentially hurt themselves.

How does cataract happen?

There are several causes of cataract, ageing being the most common cause. Other risk factors include smoking, ultraviolet exposure, long-term use of steroids, trauma and radiation therapy.

Symptoms of cataract

  • Cloudy or blurry vision
  • Colours seem faded
  • Double vision
  • Frequent prescription changes in eyeglasses or contacts
  • Poor night vision
  • Glare. Headlights, lamps or sunlight may appear too bright.

How is cataract detected?

  • Visual Acuity Test
  • Dilated Eye Exam
  • Tonometry

​Treating cataract

For most cataract cases, minor blurring of vision can be treated with eyeglasses, brighter lighting and sunglasses. If you find that you are changing your eyeglasses too often or have difficulties carrying out your normal activities, your doctor may suggest cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery is a procedure where the clouded lens in your eye is replaced with an artificial lens. This surgery is considered a generally safe procedure and you will be able to go home after a few hours. Get someone to drive you back and do not attempt to drive yourself home after surgery.

You should recover within a few weeks and you must avoid strenuous activities for the first few weeks. You will notice that vision will be improved nearly immediately after surgery. Don’t worry if it is not happening as your eyes might need some time to heal and adjust to the new lenses.