Cataract definition: a medical condition – usually age-related – in which the natural lens of your eye turns into a cloudy lens. People often experience cataract symptoms such as yellowy blurred vision and a halo around lights.
This is your concise guide to cataract information and vision loss in the UK. The guide opens with some cataract facts, followed by facts on vision loss in the UK. For a more in-depth understanding on cataracts and cataract surgery, please visit our cataract treatments page.
1. Cataracts is the leading cause of blindness in the world
2. According to the NHS, over half of British over-65s have some stage of cataract development in one or both eyes
3. Those over the age of 65 are more likely to get cataracts, but younger people can get them too
Usually, the cataract causes in a younger person are due to an underlying health condition such as diabetes, or an auto-immune disorder. Developing cataracts can also be due to trauma to the eye, excessive exposure to the sun or you can even be born with cataracts.
4. A cataract occurs when the natural lens in the eye becomes cloudy
5. Cataracts don’t grow back; the only solution is to remove the cloudy lens via a cataract surgical procedure.
6. Cataract removal surgery is a simple, painless procedure where the natural lens of the eye that has cataracts is removed and you’re given a clear artificial lens implant. The surgery is often completed in under 10 minutes and you’re able to return home on the same day.
6. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists anticipate an increase of around 50% in the number of cataract operations they will be expected to perform over the next 20 years (2015-2035)
7. 9 out of 10 patients who have cataract surgery regain 20/20 to 20/40 vision
You can seek cataract surgery at any point during its development (certain criteria must be met if the patient is seeking a NHS referral) and it is never too late to correct the problem
An unhealthy lifestyle increases your risk of cataracts. Remember it is important to wear safety gear when playing sports or working in high-risk environments. Exposure to sunlight, smoking, steroid medications, and obesity can also increase your risk.
Furthermore, when we consider vision loss as a whole:
8. More than 2 million people in the UK live with sight loss that is severe enough to have a significant impact on their daily lives, such as not being able to drive; of this figure, cataracts accounts for approximately 380,000 people
9. Every day 250 people start to lose their sight in the UK
10. 1 in 5 people will live with some form of sight loss in their lifetime, and it is more common in women due to their increased life expectancy
11. Less than half the time taken during an eye appointment involves testing sight. Most of the time is spent assessing indicators of wider eye health, including cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, and general health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure
It is important to remember that whilst cataracts is a painless condition of the eye, its impact is felt in every part of your life. Cataracts can truly impact your lifestyle and can even mean you may need to rely more on a caregiver or family member.
If you think you are developing a cataract it is important to monitor your eye condition by having regular eye examinations with your optician and ask for a referral where necessary.
For more information about cataracts and what cataract surgery entails, visit our dedicated treatment page.
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