Australians in the dark over cataracts

Many older Australians live with concern about independence, mobility and doing the things they love due to sight loss from cataracts.

 

The findings are according to new research, commissioned by Johnson and Johnson, set for release today on World Sight Day, which is focused on raising awareness about blindness and vision impairment.

 

A cataract is a clouding of the clear lens in the eye. It is one of the leading causes of vision impairment in Australia. It is estimated that more than 700,000 Australians are living with cataracts today.

 

The research, titled the “Australian Cataracts Report”, found that while four in five Australians have heard of cataracts, only one in three know how to spot the symptoms.

 

Symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Clouded, blurred or dim vision
  • Increasing difficulty with vision at night
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
  • Seeing "halos" around lights
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
  • Fading or yellowing of colors
  • Double vision in a single eye

 

At first, the cloudiness in your vision caused by a cataract may affect only a small part of the eye's lens and you may be unaware of any vision loss. As the cataract grows larger, it clouds more of your lens and distorts the light passing through the lens. This may lead to more noticeable symptoms.

 

According to Dr Con Moshegov, Sydney-based ophthalmologist, Australians need to be more aware of how to spot cataracts and when to speak to an eye doctor.

 

“Our eyesight is one of the most important senses throughout our lives, but almost a million Australians continue to be affected by cataracts,” Dr Moshegov said.

 

“By recognising symptoms and diagnosing cataracts, Australians can be more informed around how to manage the condition and improve their quality of life.”

 

The report found that when vision was restored, Australians who had cataract surgery most commonly reported feeling much happier (54 per cent), regaining their confidence / self-esteem (40 per cent) and feeling useful again (30 per cent).1

 

Out of the Australians interviewed who have been diagnosed with cataracts, more than 70 per cent of those who intend to have surgery for cataracts are looking to have it within the next three years, but according to Dr Moshegov, many are putting it off for too long and the best solution is to treat it early, as treatment can help with multiple eye conditions, such as presbyopia (age-related far-sightedness).

 

“If left untreated for too long, cataracts can lead to blindness. Surgery is the only way to remove cataracts” said Dr Moshegov.

 

“Many Australians would be more likely to have surgery for cataracts if they knew the surgery could treat other eye conditions that meant they wouldn’t need to wear glasses, for example, presbyopia, short-sightedness, and astigmatism,” Dr Moshegov said.

 

For more information, speak with an ophthalmologist or healthcare professional.

 

11 October 2018.