Cataracts affect the lens

Cataracts affect the lens
of the human eye.

The lens of the eye
is a clear, transparent disc

that sits in its own capsule
behind your pupil.

It focuses light that passes through
to the back of your eye, the retina,

helping you to see clear, sharp images.

Sometimes, as you get older,

cloudy patches
begin to form in the lens.

These are known as cataracts.

Over time these patches usually
become bigger and more can develop.

As less light passes through the lens,
your vision may become blurry or cloudy.

The cloudier the lens becomes,
the more your sight is affected.

Cataracts are most common
in people over 65,

but can also be caused by injury
or radiotherapy treatment.

Smoking, diabetes, excessive
ultraviolet light and steroid drug use

are also risk factors for cataracts.

Untreated cataracts
may eventually lead to blindness.

If your cataract is interfering
with your daily activities,

your doctor may suggest
you have surgery.

Cataract surgery is simple
and takes less than 45 minutes

and is usually a form of keyhole surgery
known as phacoemulsification.

Your surgeon will give you
a local anaesthetic,

either as drops or by injection.

They will then make a tiny cut
to the front of the eye

and use ultrasound waves
to break up the cataract,

which is then removed
through a small tube.

An artificial lens is then placed
through the same tiny cut

inside the lens capsule.

If phacoemulsification
is not recommended for any reason,

your surgeon will make
a slightly larger cut

and remove the central part
of the lens intact

before replacing it
with an artificial lens.

Most people see an improvement
with their sight

almost immediately after surgery,

and complications are rare.

If both eyes are affected
with cataracts,

only one eye at a time
will be operated on

to allow for recovery time.