Description and symptoms
Cataract describes a clinically significant opacity of the natural (crystalline) lens inside the eye. The vast majority are age-related, but smoking is an established risk factor. Mild cataract may be asymptomatic, but with time patients usually describe blurred vison and glare (trouble in bright situations, such as sunny days or looking towards oncoming headlights).
The standard treatment is phacoemulsification and intraocular lens implant (phako + IOL). Usually under topical or local anaesthesia, the natural lens is broken into tiny fragments and removed (phacoemulsification). The lens capsule is retained, into which a clear artificial lens is positioned. There is a wide choice of lens options, which will be discussed during the consent process.
If there is uncertainty as to whether or not a cataract is clinically significant, an optician can test to see if new spectacles would overcome the visual symptoms. If not, please refer routinely.
A patient information leaflet is available.