What are cataracts?
When we look at something, light rays go through into our eye through the pupil , are focused through the lens in our eye onto the retina, so our brain can then interpret the image. If the lens isn’t clear, we won’t be able to see clearly. Cataracts cloud up the lens, and may produce the following symptoms:
Things may simply look less bright and colourful than they were before. You might feel like you’re looking through a dirty window, but one or both eyes may be affected.
Cataracts may develop slowly, meaning you don’t notice anything to begin with, but it’s worth having your eyesight checked regularly especially as you age. If you are over 60, you are entitled to free eye examinations in Northern Ireland. Check out other groups entitled to free eye care here.
While cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss as we age, you may not need to have them removed right away. It depends on how much they are affecting your lifestyle.
Most adults should have a dilated eye examination every 1 -2 years as advised by Carmel @ C Murray Optician, 13 Antrim Road, Belfast BT15. Click here to make an appointment.
What can I do to prevent cataracts?
Thankfully there are a number of actions you can take to prevent or delay the growth of cataracts.
A detailed eye examination is the best way to prevent, diagnose and treat cataracts. If you cannot remember the last time you had an eye examination, it’s been too long.
Protect your eyes from bright sunlight – wear sunglasses and avoid the use of sunlamps
Manage your weight by eating a healthy diet – see our eating for eye health section for advice.
Stop smoking – there are numerous local support groups to help you achieve this, such as this one.
Limit your alcohol intake to recommended levels
Always wear protective eye gear such as goggles when undertaking tasks which could result in an eye injury. For gardening and eyes, click here.