When your vision is better, you can live a fulfilling life no matter your age.
We need vison clarity to lead a good life. Only if we have clear vision can we enjoy beautiful sunsets or a drive through a green forest or the bright colours of our grandchild’s painting, or read an interesting book! When we have clear vision, we can continue to do all the things we love throughout our life1. As we age, our vision may not be as clear as we want. We may become hesitant to do things that we have always done such as driving, cooking, or painting and we have to ask others for help. The most common cause for this reduced vision clarity after the age of 50 years is cataract2.
What is cataract?
In cataract, the natural, transparent lens of the eye becomes cloudy, and people suffer from symptoms of cataract such as double or blurred vision. Patients often fail to differentiate colours and have trouble in their night vision. Cataract also makes it difficult for people to perform their daily tasks such as reading, walking on crowded roads, driving, and doing other routine housework. Cataract patients cannot judge how far objects are from them and from each other3. This makes them three times more vulnerable to falls compared to people of the same age who do not have cataract4.
Surgery on time is the only effective way to restore vision clarity in cataracts. Cataract surgery is a safe procedure in which the natural lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial lens known as an ‘intraocular lens (IOL). It is the most beneficial with the least complications if performed on time. As the natural lens starts to become more clouded, it also becomes denser and harder. Surgery at this stage becomes difficult and there are chances that vision may not be restored completely5.
When cataract starts in one eye, patients often miss early symptoms because the other eye works harder to maintain vision clarity for both eyes6. It is when the cataract develops in the other eye as well, that patients have trouble in their daily activities. For example, they may need a brighter light to read, they may find it difficult to drive at night or they may not be able to see the picture on TV clearly. We want to catch the cataract early and, in time to restore vision clarity. This is why people above the age of 50 years should visit their eye care specialist every year to prevent delays in the diagnosis of cataract7.