What are cataracts?

Cataracts (pronounced ka-tuh-rakts) are a very common eye condition. As we get older the lens inside our eye gradually changes and becomes less transparent (clear). A lens that has turned misty, or cloudy, is said to have a cataract. Over time a cataract can get worse, gradually making your vision mistier and can usually affect one eye or both.

Cataracts normally develop very slowly. At first, the changes they make to your sight may be difficult to notice, but as they get worse you’ll start to notice symptoms such as:

  • Feeling like your glasses are dirty and need cleaning, even when they don’t
  • Your sight is misty and cloudy
  • You’re more sensitive to light – bright sunlight or car headlamps may glare more
  • Everything looks a little more washed out than it should be

Most people start to develop cataracts after the age of 65, but some can develop it in their forties and fifties. There are certain things that make it more likely you will develop cataracts and they include diabetes, trauma some prescription drugs e.g. steroids.

Further information can be found on RNIB's cataracts webpage.

For information on cataracts and children see My baby/child has congenital cataracts, what can I expect to happen?

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