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Different Types Of Cataracts & Their Symptoms

Cataracts are a common eye condition that occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to a progressive loss of vision. The lens, located behind the iris (the coloured part of the eye), helps focus light onto the retina at the back of the eye, allowing us to see clearly. When cataracts develop, the clouding of the lens blocks, reduces or distorts light, resulting in blurred or hazy vision

There are several types of cataracts, classified based on where and how they develop:

Age-related Cataracts: These are the most common type and develop as a natural part of aging. Over time, proteins in the lens break down and clump together, causing cloudiness.

Congenital Cataracts: These occur in infants or children and may be present at birth or develop shortly thereafter. They can be caused by genetic factors, infections during pregnancy, or other conditions affecting foetal development.

Traumatic Cataracts: These form as a result of eye injuries, such as blunt trauma or penetrating injuries that damage the lens.

Radiation Cataracts: Exposure to certain types of radiation, such as radiation therapy for cancer treatment, can increase the risk of developing cataracts.

Drug-induced Cataracts: Prolonged use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids or some types of antipsychotic drugs, can lead to cataract formation.

The symptoms for cataracts may vary depending on the type and severity of the cataract. Cataracts often develop slowly and may not cause noticeable symptoms at first. However, as they progress, common symptoms may include: 

Cloudy or Blurry Vision: This is one of the most common symptoms. You might notice that your vision becomes increasingly hazy or cloudy, as if you're looking through a fogged-up window.

Difficulty Seeing at Night: People with cataracts often find it challenging to see clearly in low light conditions, such as driving at night.

Sensitivity to Light: You may become more sensitive to bright lights or glare. This sensitivity can make it uncomfortable to be in brightly lit environments.

Fading or Yellowing of Colours: Colours may appear less vibrant or yellowed, affecting your ability to distinguish between shades. Due to the speed of change, this can be difficult to determine as a symptom, though friends or family may classify colours differently to the cataract sufferer.

Double Vision: Cataracts can cause double vision in one eye, leading to overlapping images.

Frequent Changes in Eyeglass Prescription: As the cataract progresses, your vision may change, necessitating frequent updates to your glasses prescription. 

Halos Around Lights: Some people with cataracts experience seeing halos around lights, which can interfere with vision, especially at night.  

Our Clinical Services Director Stephen Hannan said “Cataracts can often be effectively treated with surgery, especially if they significantly impair your vision and quality of life. The most common treatment for cataracts is surgical removal of the cloudy lens and replacement with an artificial lens implant. Today’s implants, or Intraocular Lenses, are fantastic. There are many different designs, including some that correct all of far, intermediate and near vision. Patients are extremely unlikely to wear glasses for distance or near after a presbyopia-correcting IOL procedure. 93% of patients tell us their quality of life is better after an eye surgery procedure than what it was before.”

If you notice any of these symptoms, it's essential to see an eye care professional, such as an optometrist, for a comprehensive eye examination.

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