Cataract Guide

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This guide has been written to help you understand what cataract is and what cataract surgery entails.  Cataract is extremely common and many people facing surgery want to understand why they are having surgery, how they need to get themselves ready for the procedure, how they will feel immediately afterwards as well as how their vision will be improved long term. 

Cataract surgery is a routine and straightforward procedure, but you may have to make some important decisions about placing of a new lens in your eye and where you should be treated.  To find a list of eye clinics in your area, visit the Find page.  By being aware of what happens during surgery, you may feel more at ease and be able to prepare yourself.      

What is Cataract?

The eye lens is made of water and protein and sits behind the iris and the pupil.  The lens is about 9mm long and 4mm wide and has several layers.  The outer layer (capsule) is thin and clear and surrounds the soft clear cortex.  The centre is harder and called the lens nucleus.  The lens function is to focus light onto the retina at the back of the eye to enable clear vision.  Like a camera, it focus’s so that objects close and far can be seen, clearly.  The protein in the eye lens is arranged in a particular way so that it remains clear and allows light to pass through.  Excessive build up of protein and gathering of it in clumps, clouds the lens and blocks light from entering the eye and vision becomes unclear.  This is known as Cataract.  This usually worsens overtime and eventually requires treatment as it becomes denser and involves a greater part of the lens.

Cataracts vary considerably between people.  The speed of development can vary from a few months to a few years.  For some people, cataracts stops growing quite early and vision is not affected.  Cataracts also progresses differently in both eyes, with one having better vision than the other.

If you are having cataract surgery, watch the video below for a full explanation of cataract.

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