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A cataract is a discolouration or clouding of the lens in the eye.

Cataracts can develop at any age but are more common as you get older. Apart from the normal ageing process, cataracts may also develop following an eye injury, secondary to other diseases such as diabetes, or with longer term use of medications such as steroids.

Cataracts tend to progress slowly in most cases and can affect one or both eyes. In the early stages a cataract may not have much impact on your vision.  As a cataract progresses it can affect your vision as it gets harder to see through the lens.

Symptoms of cataracts include blurry vision and poor night vision. Colours appear less vibrant and glare becomes more bothersome, especially when driving at night, as the light scatters more as it enters the eye.

A cataract does not have to be removed just because it is there. In the early stages, changes in your eyesight can be improved by updating your spectacle prescription. Increased lighting, especially when reading, can make it easier, and sunglasses can help reduce daytime glare.

As a cataract progresses, the reduced vision can have an increasing impact on day to day activities such as reading, driving, and watching television. When a cataract starts to impact on your quality of life surgery may need to be considered. Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries. It is also one of the safest and most effective. Surgery involves replacing the cloudy lens with a new clear lens. 

The symptoms of cataracts may look like other eye conditions so it is important to come in for an eye examination if you notice changes in your vision.


Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that result in irreversible vision loss due to damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve connects the eyeball to the brain. Loss of sight due to glaucoma is usually gradual and tends to affect your peripheral (side) vision first. As a result most people will not have any symptoms in the early stages.

Increased intra-ocular pressure (the pressure of the fluid in the eye) is the most common cause of glaucoma, however, glaucoma can also be present in people with normal pressure. Fluid is constantly produced within the eye to provide nourishment to the eye before being drained. If too much fluid is produced or it doesn’t drain properly then the pressure within the eye increases and it is this increased pressure that causes damage to the optic nerve.

There are different types of glaucoma.

Primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common type. In POAG the drainage channels within the eye are wide open but the intra-ocular pressure is high enough to damage the optic nerve. There are no obvious symptoms in the early stages with damage progressing slowly and affecting peripheral vision initially.

Angle closure glaucoma results from the blockage of the drainage channels inside the eye causing a sudden increase in eye pressure. Patients with an angle closure episode may present with a painful, red eye, blurred vision, haloes around lights, and nausea. If not treated, angle closure glaucoma can cause blindness within a few days and is a medical emergency.

Normal tension glaucoma is a type of open angle glaucoma that develops in someone with normal eye pressure. It is thought that low blood pressure or reduced ocular blood flow may contribute to the glaucoma progression.

Secondary glaucomas are glaucoma caused secondary to another cause such as an injury, steroids, or medical condition.

You are at higher risk of glaucoma if have a family history of glaucoma, have high intraocular pressure, over the age of 40, have diabetes, prolonged steroid use, are a migraine sufferer or experience obstructive sleep apnoea.

Management of glaucoma involves lowering the eye pressure. This may be in the form of prescription eye drops or laser in the early stages or surgery in more advanced cases.

Glaucoma is diagnosed through a regular eye examination.  As it is usually asymptomatic regular eye examinations are important for early detection. There is no cure for glaucoma, however, early detection can slow down the rate of progression.


Age related macular degeneration is a progressive eye condition that results in loss of central vision due to damage to the central part of the retina called the macula. It is the leading cause of vision loss in Australians over the age of 50.

There are 2 main types of macular degeneration – wet and dry.

Dry macular degeneration is the most common form. Waste material builds up beneath the macula and results in damage to the cells located there. This develops slowly resulting in gradual vision loss.

Wet macular degeneration is the more aggressive form. It results from abnormal blood vessels growing under the macula and leaking blood and fluid resulting in damage to the retina. This results in a more sudden and severe loss of vision.

The risk of developing macular degeneration increase with age, if there is a family history, or if you are a smoker.

There is no cure for macular degeneration. In the early dry stages it is regularly monitored as it can progress to the wet form. Diet and lifestyle changes can be helpful in slowing the rate of progression. Wet macular degeneration requires prompt treatment to save vision. Injections can be given to stop the growth of abnormal vessels and fluid leakage and help restore vision. 

Macular degeneration is diagnosed during a regular eye examination. In the early stages vision may not be affected but early detection allows you to make lifestyle changes that can slow progression.



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