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Understanding Cataracts and Early Detection

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

June is Cataract Awareness Month and Panoptic Vision supports educating about the disease and seeking help early.

Cataracts affect about half of all Australians over 65, and cataract surgery is one of the most common surgery procedures in Australia. It is the leading cause of blindness worldwide and 42% of cases of blindness is caused by cataracts.

Detect Cataract Early | Panoptic Vision

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a change in the clarity of the lens in the eye. This 'clouding' makes it gradually more difficult for light to pass through. Vision becomes hazy and patients experience more difficulty with reading and driving. Some notice an increase in glare sensitivity and even colour perception changes. Both eyes can be affected by cataracts, and one is usually worse than the other.

Two types of cataracts

There are two main types of cataracts:

  1. A yellowing which doesn't usually affect sight until an advanced stage. This still requires checking because as it changes, the lens become more brittle and can become very difficult for surgeons to remove. When detected early and referred to an ophthalmologist, it is a straightforward surgical procedure.

  2. A white clouding often in the pocket of the lens, this can develop quickly and cause more sight and glare sensitivity problems.

Common symptoms

There are some common symptoms of cataracts, so if you experience these, it's a good idea to check with your ophthalmologist.

  • Vision is cloudy, foggy or fuzzy when looking in the distance or close up reading

  • Night driving is a challenge because of vision difficulties

  • Increased sensitivity to bright lights

  • Colours look distorted e.g. bright colours become dull

  • Glasses no longer seem to help and more frequent changes in prescription are needed

Elderly couple reading ipad | Panoptic Vision

Causes of cataracts

Most people associate cataracts with older people. Ageing is a common cause of it, as our eyes do start to change after the age of 40. The proteins in the lens are starting to break down and cause the lens to get cloudy. It may be surprising but younger adults and even children and infants can get cataracts because of other reasons such as:

  • genetics

  • smoking

  • medical conditions such as diabetes

  • sunlight exposure

In theses cases, cataracts can develop quickly.

Cataract surgery

Cataracts associated with ageing tend to develop more slowly and it may be several years before one notices one's vision has been affected. That is why early detection is possible and vital. Surgery becomes an option when the condition of the cataract is affecting the patient's daily activities. This is especially important when people find it hard to read road signs, or experience too much glare when driving at night.

Cataract surgeries involve removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear man-made one. It is a day procedure and quick - around 15 minutes. The operation is carried out one eye at a time with a space of about two to three weeks apart. The upside is, results are usually highly positive and free of complications. Patients notice clearer sight the next day and can resume their daily life in a matter of weeks.

Prevention is key

Early detection of cataracts is as simple as having a regular eye health assessment, where a painless check behind the microscope can help identify the problem and monitor the progress of the cataracts. A referral can be made where relevant and necessary.

During an eye health assessment, Panoptic Vision uses state-of-the-art technology to image the front layers and the back of the eye. This helps the ophthalmologist to screen for a variety of eye health issues so the appropriate treatment or referrals can be made as soon as possible.

Medicare rebates

Because cataracts are more prevalent with age, Medicare now allows over 65-year-olds to have a full Medicare rebate for a comprehensive eye exam every year. Help your eyes to achieve the best health possible. Making your first eye health assessment is a big step to future regular examinations.



Contact Panoptic Vision

Panoptic Vision Lake Cathie

1459 Ocean Drive, Lake Cathie, NSW 2445

Tel: (02) 6584 8900

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday 8:30 am - 5:30 pm

Saturday By appointment only

Panoptic Vision Bellingen

2/58-60 Hyde St, Bellingen, NSW 2454

Tel: (02) 6655 2768

Opening Hours:

Monday - Thursday 9:30 am - 5:30 pm


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