When the optometrist at Vision Excellence at Norwest examines your eyes, one of the important structures of the eye that is assessed is the focussing mechanism at the front of the eye. The two main parts of the eye that provide the focussing power to project a sharp image on the retina at the back of the eye are the cornea and the crystalline lens.
The crystalline lens, which is responsible for about 25% of the focussing power of the eye, is the main part of the eye that changes with age. The two main changes that occur with time are:
The lens undergoes a biochemical process that causes it to harden. This process is a perfectly natural part of the aging process even in the healthiest of eyes and causes the increasing difficulty with focussing at near distances in middle age, a condition known as presbyopia.
The lens can also lose some or all of its transparency with time and become cloudy. A little bit of cloudiness is not something to be concerned about with advancing years and it is very unusual for the crystalline lens to be perfectly clear in the eyes of older adults. However, if the cloudiness becomes so dense that the light is impeded from passing through the eye to the retina, this condition is known as cataract. The formation of cataract will gradually cause more and more disruption to the quality of vision. Initially, there may be a slight yellowing of sight without much change to clarity. As time goes on and the cataract becomes denser, this can result in decreased brightness of vision with associated loss in clarity.
The formation of cataracts is more likely in the eyes of smokers, in people who spend a lot of time outdoors without adequate protection from UV light from the sun, and in diabetics. The advice you will receive from your Vision Excellence optometrist to try to minimise cataract formation in the younger years of life is obviously not to smoke, to wear adequate outdoor protection from sunlight such as sunglasses and a hat. We will also work with other health professionals in Norwest and surrounding areas to help motivate people with diabeties to keep their condition under control to minimise the likelihood of cataract formation.
There is no medication that will cure or dissolve cataracts. The only way to restore sight is through surgery by an ophthalmologist. If the quality of your vision is deteriorating, the optometrist in Vision Excellence at Norwest will assess the state of your crystalline lenses. If surgery is required, we will refer you to an ethical ophthalmologist who shares our passion for excellence to look after your surgical needs.
Learn more about cataract surgery on AllAboutVision.com.