June is Cataract Awareness Month!

June is Cataract Awareness Month, a campaign aimed at raising awareness around the leading cause of treatable vision loss in the UK. Cataracts are most commonly found in people aged over 65 and with the ageing population, the number of diagnosed cases is rising every year.

What are Cataracts and how are they treated?

A cataract develops when the lens in your eye, which is normally clear, becomes foggy. This happens when proteins inside the lens break down and clump together. Cataracts usually form slowly and you may not notice you have them until they start to block out light. From there, if left untreated they can seriously impair your eyesight by giving you cloudy, foggy vision or in some cases total vision loss.

Cataracts can be treated by a procedure called Cataract Surgery. This is where the eye’s cloudy lens is replaced by a synthetic lens. Fortunately, this surgery is a same day procedure that can be performed at any stage of the cataracts development.

At ACES we used a process called Phacoemulsification to remove cataracts, this is a method which uses ultrasonic energy waves to emulsify the cataract lens before it is replaced with the new synthetic lens.

How do Cataracts affect your day-to-day life?

Cataracts make it extremely difficult to complete daily tasks such as reading or driving, with some people even feeling a complete loss of independence. Not only are they no longer able to participate in hobbies they once loved they are also forced to rely on the constant support of others. People living with advanced cataracts can also suffer a loss of mobility and often finding themselves at risk of having a serious trip or fall due to their impaired vision. Studies have shown that cataract surgery is an effective intervention to reduce the risk of falls in elderly patients who suffer from cataract related impaired vision.[1]

As cataracts can drastically reduce a patient’s quality of life, studies also show that people with untreated cataracts have a higher rate of depression of those who do not.[2] Because people rely so much on their vision to be able to continue their daily activities and enjoy their favourite activities, the loss of this ultimately can lead to depression and mental health issues.

NHS and ACES waiting times

With waiting times for NHS Cataract Surgery increasing by 84%[3] and this delay resulting in cataracts worsening over time, causing further complications, there is more demand than ever for GPs and Optometrists to refer their patients to ACES.

At ACES we aim to treat people for cataracts within four weeks from their initial referral, this is a substantially quicker wait time than many people are currently enduring on NHS hospital waiting lists. It is important to remember that all patients have a legal right to choose where they receive their NHS treatment and you can be offered an appointment with ACES as soon as we receive a referral from your GP or Optometrist.

What to do?

If you suspect you might have cataracts and feel they are reducing your quality of vision, you should make an appointment with your GP or Optometrist. If you are diagnosed with cataracts, they will be able to provide support and advice on the treatment options available to you and refer you to ACES for timely treatment so you can get back to living life the fullest again.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1771665/

[2] https://www.ceenta.com/news-blog/the-link-between-cataracts-and-depression

[3] https://www.aop.org.uk/ot/professional-support/health-services/2021/10/23/waiting-times-for-nhs-cataract-surgery-increase-84-in-england