In a bid to raise awareness of one of the leading causes of treatable vision loss in the UK, June has officially been declared as Cataract Awareness Month. Often affecting those aged over 65, cataracts can have a severe impact on your eyesight, in turn drastically reducing your mobility, independence, and quality of life. As the number of cataract cases is expected to rise across the globe as a result of an ageing population, experts are now urging people to educate themselves on the condition and the treatment options available to them.
Cataracts occur when proteins in the lens break down and clump together, resulting in cloudy patches that obstruct your vision. Often developing gradually over an extended period of time, they can progress enough to seriously impair your vision if left untreated, causing symptoms such as blurry or misty eyesight, sensitivity to light and changes in the perception of colour.
As these symptoms can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks like reading and driving, many people find themselves experiencing a loss of mobility and independence. People suffering from advanced cataracts are often unable to participate in certain activities or hobbies, or find that restricted vision has such an impact on their self-esteem that they struggle to move around their home or venture outside with confidence. Research has shown that this can have a seriously damaging effect on mental wellbeing, as the risk of developing depression was found to be almost doubled in patients with untreated cataracts.1
Cataracts can not only drastically reduce quality of life, the impaired vision they cause can also make people more prone to serious trips and falls. While many might turn to vision correction solutions such as multifocal or bifocal glasses, it’s important to note that these can actually further increase the risk of trips and falls, as they reduce depth perception and impair contrast sensitivity. One in every three falls can be attributed to the wearing of multifocal/bifocal glasses2, often resulting in devastating injuries and even hospitalisation. By opting for cataract surgery, vision can be restored, eliminating the need for glasses, and reducing the risk of serious injury through trips and falls.
When deciding to opt for surgery, your first thought may be to use your local hospital’s eye service. As the global COVID-19 pandemic has put a huge strain on the NHS, however, patients awaiting cataract treatment are now reporting significant delays of many months and even years in some areas. Strict criteria have also been put in place to prioritise urgent cases, which could mean that many patients might not be offered NHS surgery in one or both eyes despite having an identifiable cataract. By choosing to have treatment at Optical Express, you can help reduce the burden on the NHS at a time of unprecedented pressure and receive cataract treatment in a matter of weeks.
Choosing to go private can not only drastically reduce cataract treatment waiting time, patients can also choose from a range of premium lens options that are not available through the NHS. These include multifocal lenses that are designed to allow good vision at all distances - near, intermediate and far. What’s more, patients often have to wait months between their first and second eye to be operated on when receiving treatment through the NHS, resulting in visual discomfort, double or blurred vision, and headaches. At Optical Express, you can have both eyes treated on the same day, because visual comfort is best when vision in both eyes is balanced.
So, whether you suspect that you may be developing early-stage cataracts or find yourself struggling with poor vision due to advanced cataracts, it’s always a good idea to book in for a free consultation and speak to our expert team. Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most common operations performed in the UK, and can make a huge difference to your day-to-day life. Patients who have had cataract treatment experience significant improvements in their quality of life and emotional wellbeing, as they live more social and active lifestyles. What’s more, the risk of serious trips and falls is greatly reduced, in turn positively impacting on long-term health.
This Cataract Awareness Month, let’s educate ourselves on cataracts and the services that are available to see clearly today and in the years to come. Book in for your free consultation at Optical Express now.
1Cataract and the increased risk of depression in general population: a 16-year nationwide population-based longitudinal study: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-70285-7
2Lord SR. J Am Geriatr Soc 2002; 50:1760-6Book Your Free Consultation