Cataract - FAQs

Cataract - FAQs

Inside the eye, behind the coloured part (the iris) with a black hole in the middle (the pupil), is the lens. In a normal eye, this lens is clear. It helps focus light rays on to the back of the eye (the retina), which sends messages to the brain allowing us to see. When cataract develops, the lens becomes cloudy and prevents the light rays from passing through.

Cataract Vision Comparison

What symptoms do cataracts cause?

Cataracts usually form slowly over years causing a gradual blurring of vision, which eventually is not correctable by glasses. In some people the vision can deteriorate relatively quickly. Developing cataract can also cause glare, difficulty with night-time driving and multiple images in one eye which can affect the quality of the vision.

Are there different kinds of cataract?

Yes. Most cataracts are age-related, but other examples include congenital (present at birth), drug induced (steroids), and traumatic (injury to the eye).

Are cataracts just a part of getting old?

Most forms of cataract develop in later adult life. This is called age-related cataract, and can occur at any time after the age of 40. The normal process of ageing causes the lens to gradually become cloudy. Not all people who develop cataract require treatment. We usually recommend surgery if they are affecting your quality of life, activities of daily living or ability to drive (meet DVLA driving standards).


Cataract Diagram

I didn’t know that I had a cataract until my optician told me – is that normal?

Early on, you might not be aware that cataract is developing and, initially, it may not cause problems with your vision. Generally, as cataract develops over time, you start to experience blurring of vision. In most cases, eyes with a cataract look normal but, if the cataract is advanced, your pupil may no longer look black and can look cloudy or white.

You may need to get new prescription glasses more frequently when the cataract is developing, because as the lens gets thicker and the cataract develops, you become more short-sighted. Eventually, when your cataract worsens, stronger glasses may no longer improve your sight and you might have difficulty seeing things even with your glasses on.

Assessment of cataract

You will be asked about your sight problems, any other eye conditions and your general health. Your sight will be tested and measurements taken with specialist equipment, which will help us to make recommendations about the best treatment for your vision problem.

You will be given eye drops to make your pupil bigger, so that we can examine your eyes fully. The drops will blur your vision and the effect of the drops will take a few hours to wear off. For this reason, you are advised not to drive after your hospital appointments. You should also take care that you do not miss your footing and be very careful with steps while your vision is still blurred.