cataract causes melbourne

Most Common Cataract Causes That You Should Know

A cataract is an opacity or clouding of the eye’s crystalline lens. This lens is located just behind the coloured iris of the eyeball. As this lens clouding gradually progresses, you end up with the characteristic cataract symptoms of foggy vision, glare sensitivity, and reduced contrast vision. For some people, a developing cataract also causes other noticeable cataract symptoms such as altered colour perception or frequent changes to their prescription. Fortunately, cataract surgery is considered a highly effective and safe operation and is readily available via the Australian healthcare system.


Cataract Causes

While this is not an exhaustive list of every single factor that potentially causes cataracts, here are some of the most common cataract causes.

Age. Older age definitely is at the top of the list of cataract causes. And because of our ageing population here in Australia, this also makes cataract surgery one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures. Exactly how increasing age causes cataracts is not fully understood, but doctors believe that the cumulative exposure of the eye to UV radiation over a lifetime may be at least partly to blame. Additionally, as we age, the crystalline lens continually grows more lens fibres around its outer layers. Over time this may compact the inner lens fibres and cause them to opacify.

Diabetes and other metabolic diseases. A systemic condition such as diabetes causes cataracts due to the abnormal metabolism of certain compounds in the body, which can accumulate in the lens of the eye or affect the water content of the lens. For example, diabetes causes cataracts by elevated glucose levels inducing the lens to absorb more water and swell. This intake of water damages the lens fibres and causes them to become opaque.
It is estimated that people with diabetes are at a 60% higher risk of developing cataracts compared to someone without diabetes. Furthermore, because of the other effects of systemic diseases on the body and other parts of the eye, having a metabolic condition may make cataract surgery more complicated.

factors cataract causes melbourneCertain medications. Various medications, whether topical eye drops or systemic administration (such as via intravenous injection, inhaler, or oral tablets) may be associated with the development of a cataract. The risk of developing a cataract as a side effect of a medication is usually dependent on the dosage and duration of use of the drug. The most well-known of these are corticosteroids. A steroid-induced cataract often forms at the centre of the back surface of the lens, leading to significant cataract symptoms such as glare sensitivity and a decrease in vision. Unfortunately, once a steroid-induced cataract has formed, ceasing the steroid medication doesn’t reverse the cataract; only cataract surgery is able to treat it.

Smoking. Tobacco use is also on the list of cataract causes and may accelerate your need for cataract surgery at an earlier age compared to a non-smoker. Smoking is also associated with an increased risk of various other eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration. Unlike cataracts which can be treated with cataract surgery, the vision lost from macular degeneration is irreversible. Research tells us that a smoker is twice as likely to develop a cataract compared to someone who has never smoked. Those who are previous smokers but now no longer smoke are able to decrease their risk but unfortunately still carrya higher risk of developing a cataract compared to someone who has never smoked.

Trauma. Types of trauma that are inducing a cataract are not limited to just an accidental hit to the eye. While a blunt blow such as a cricket ball has the potential to cause a cataract, radiation to the eye and electrocution may also result in cataract formation necessitating cataract surgery. Penetrating eye injuries such as a shard of glass through the eye from a car accident can also cause a cataract, as can chronic inflammation in the eye, such as from uveitis.

Other systemic health conditions. Having hypertension or being obese is also linked with a higher risk of developing a cataract. Excess fat tissue when overweight releases a chemical into the bloodstream that causes oxidative damage to the eye. This causes the lens fibres to become hazy. Elevated blood pressure during hypertension is thought to cause inflammation throughout the body, which may also induce cataract formation. Studies have observed that hypertension is in fact the most frequent risk factor in patients attending for cataract

● Alcohol consumption. Alcohol intake and its effect on cataract formation is not fully understood as different studies have observed different findings. Many have noted that the risk of developing age-related cataract symptoms increases with an increasing level of alcohol consumption. However, some studies have also found that moderate alcohol consumption actually has a protective effect against cataract formation, decreasing the
likelihood of cataract surgery.

With the eye being such a complex and delicate organ, we are likely to discover more factors associated with causing a cataract as our medical understanding continues to progress. Fortunately, cataracts can be effectively treated through cataract surgery, often restoring your vision to pre- cataract days and even giving you clear vision without your old glasses!

Call us now on (03) 9070 3580 for a consultation.



Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second
opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

eye cataract treatment melbourne

Eye Cataract Treatment – How Does It Really Work?

Have you just been told you have a cataract in your eye? Cataract treatment is a safe, effective surgical procedure. Because cataracts are typically associated with ageing, in Australia with our ageing population, that makes cataract surgery one of the topmost commonly performed operations in our country.


What is the Best Treatment for a Cataract?

Currently, the only definitive eye cataract treatment we have available is through surgical cataract extraction. In Australia, cataract surgery can be accessed either through the public system or performed by an ophthalmologist in the private system.

If you go through the public system, the operation will be free but you will likely be on a waiting list for several months, depending on the particular hospital. This has implications for timing based on your eye cataract symptoms. If there are no other health concerns with your eye and your cataract symptoms are still tolerable, it may not be an issue for you to wait 6 months or even a year to have your cataract operation. Conversely, if your vision has deteriorated to a point where you are unable to drive safely, you may consider a private eye surgeon to be able to access eye cataract treatment more promptly.

As a cataract develops in the eye, cataract symptoms will gradually become more noticeable. The point that you may want to pursue cataract surgery will differ from individual to individual. For example, if one person’s hobby is bird watching, they may be more bothered by a mild deterioration to their vision from a cataract compared to another person who enjoys gaming. By attending your scheduled eye examinations with your optometrist or ophthalmologist, your eye care provider will be able to guide you as to when your cataracts may be ready for surgery.


How Eye Cataract Treatment Works?

Cataract extraction through surgery is associated with high rates of success in Australia. The aim of a cataract operation is to remove the cloudy lens from the eye and replace it with a clear artificial lens implant known as an intraocular lens.

procedure eye cataract treatment melbourneBefore you go into surgery, you will have at least one or two consultations with the eye specialist. During these appointments, the doctor will perform a thorough eye examination to assess the cataract and its effect on your vision. The examination will also aim to detect any other eye diseases or conditions that may make the cataract operation more complicated or limit the final result. For example, if you also have a retinal condition such as age-related macular degeneration that is affecting your vision, your eye doctor will explain that the improvement to your vision after cataract surgery may be limited by this macular disease.

During one of your pre-operation consultations, the eye specialist will also discuss your options for intraocular lenses. Intraocular lenses can be monofocal, multifocal, extended depth of focus, or accommodative. There are also toric intraocular lenses that correct for astigmatism. An intraocular lens is like a spectacle lens implanted in the eye; it can be chosen based on your eye’s prescription and what you want to achieve with your vision after the surgery. For example, some people choose monofocal intraocular lenses – this corrects your eye for one viewing distance, such as far sight; you will then use reading glasses for all near work, like reading or computer work. Conversely, people who spend a lot of time on near viewing may prefer to have intraocular lens implants that allow them to read without glasses and instead put glasses on for long-distance vision. A multifocal lens implant is designed to provide you with some degree of functional long and near vision without glasses. These types of intraocular lenses, as well as extended depth of focus or accommodative lenses, will often need some adaptation. Not all patients are suitable for these types of intraocular lenses, so it’s best to discuss this with your eye surgeon.

Cataract surgery is performed under local anaesthesia, either an injection around the eye or with topical eye drops. The eye surgeon will create a small incision at the edge of your cornea, which is the clear dome of tissue at the front of the eye. The incision can either be made using a handheld instrument or with a laser tool, known as a femtosecond laser. Femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery is a newer technique that utilises the laser for several steps that are usually performed by hand during conventional cataract surgery. During laser-assisted surgery, the femtosecond laser is also used to open the membrane bag which holds the lens in the eye as well as to soften the cataract for fragmentation. During conventional cataract surgery, handheld tools are used to open the
membrane bag and then an ultrasound probe is applied to break up the cataract into pieces. Laser-assisted surgery also uses the ultrasound probe to fragment the cataract but typically uses less ultrasound energy as the cataract is already softened with the laser beforehand. The pieces of the cataract are then suctioned out of the eye in both techniques. Both femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery and conventional cataract surgery are considered safe and effective methods of removing a cataract.



Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second
opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.