Cataract Symptoms

Cataracts often develop slowly and may not impact your vision in the early stages.

Sometimes you may find that your distance vision deteriorates, but you no longer need your reading glasses.

As a cataract grows, you may notice:

  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Seeing halos around lights, particularly whilst driving at night
  • Seeing faded colours or a yellow tint to the world
  • Frequent changes to your glasses prescription
  • Glasses are no longer working to focus the image
  • Double vision in one eye
Healthy Vision Cataract Vision

Healthy versus cataract-affected vision.

Causes of Cataracts

Cataracts happen due to changes in the tissue which makes up the lens of the eye. This commonly occurs due to age.

The lens of the eye naturally becomes thicker and less flexible with age, which commonly results in people needing reading glasses.  Over time the lens, as it ages, it changes consistency and becomes "foggy", which will cause your vision to become blurry, duller and or sensitive to light.

Other causes of cataracts can include:

  • Eye trauma
  • Family history of cataracts
  • Prolonged use of steroid medications
  • Diabetes
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Previous eye inflammation

How are cataracts diagnosed?

If you suspect that you have a cataract, it’s important to talk to an eye care professional as soon as possible to begin addressing the problem. You will need to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist to confirm the diagnosis.

Your specialist will diagnose a cataract using a slit lamp microscope, which allows them to look closely at the lens. The rest of the eye is also thoroughly examined to ensure there are no other underlying causes of vision loss.

If your cataract is small and in its early stages, you may only need a change in your glasses and just be monitored. Surgery may be recommended at a later date to address more severe vision loss.

Cataract Extractions

Cataracts do not heal on their own and no medications or natural treatments are currently available to reverse them. Cataracts can only be removed with surgery.

The aim of cataract surgery is to restore clear vision by replacing the clouded lens with a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL). The new lens lets light pass through without interruption, allowing you to see normally again.

Pre operative Cataract Assessment

Before your cataract surgery, you will see an eye surgeon, who will assess your vision and examine your eyes, to ensure that the cataract is the only reason for your "blurred vision". 

During the appointment  your eyes will be dilated and scans will be performed to assess the health of your macula and nerve.  An ultrasound will also measure your eye and help calculate the correct power of your new intraocular lens (IOL).

Once a cataract has been determined to be the cause of the blurred vision, the surgeon will assess your "visual" needs, for instance, what your daily visual requirements are, for instance: driving, computer work, as well as your hobbies, including golf, boating, fine metal or needle work etc.

These questions are important to ensure a lens is chosen that will provide you with "functional" glasses independence for your main activities of living.

Age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration
Healthy macular

Day of Cataract Surgery

Cataract extraction is the most common eye surgery in Australia and has a very high success rate. If your eyes are otherwise healthy, you can expect a great improvement to vision afterwards.

The surgery is performed in a day surgery and you will go home the same day. However, bear in mind that you won’t be able to drive yourself home and will need to arrange for someone to pick you up.

Upon your admission to the the day surgery, the nurses will begin a number of eye drops, which will dilate your pupil, similar to when you were assessed by your surgeon.

The surgeon's anesthetist will meet you and discuss the type of sedation and anesthetic you will have.  Typically this is similar to "twilight" sedation plus local anesthetic around your eye, so you are comfortable and won't feel anything during the operation.

Your surgeon then breaks up your cataract with Phacoemulsification (ultrasound technology) and removes it from your eye.  This is done through approximately a 2mm incision.  The new lens is then placed in the eye.

You will go home with a pad and shield over your operated eye, which you will remove when at home and you will then start your drops.

Recovery from cataract surgery

You will go home with a pad and shield over your operated eye.  Unless told otherwise, you will take your pad and shield off when you get home and commence an antibiotic and anti inflammatory drops.

Blurred vision, itching, and mild discomfort may be present after the procedure. This usually disappears within a few days as the eye heals and adjusts to the new lens. It’s important to avoid rubbing or pushing on your eye during this time, as this can disrupt healing and displace the new lens. 

Cataract surgery usually has a very quick recovery time, and most people can return to work within a few days. You may need more time off if your work is physically demanding or involves a risk of airborne particles or liquids. Your eye surgeon can give you individual advice on your return to work after cataract surgery.

Most people are able to drive within 48 hours of cataract surgery, although it’s recommended to avoid long-distance driving for at least a week as it can cause eye strain.

Day One Review

You will be reviewed in the clinic the day following your operation to check the lens and your eye.  You will be reminded of the post operative drops that you need

Subsequent Review

Depending upon whether you are to have both eyes operated on, will determine your next appointment.  If you are having your second eye done, you will typically be seen the following week, to ensure that the lens choice for your next eye will ensure glasses independence.

Typically you will have a follow up appointment within six weeks of your last eye operation for the final review.

Additional Information

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