Senile cataracts are inevitable. Typically they make it seem as if a veil has been drawn over the objects we look at. They make distant images appear blurred and lead to a general clouding of vision. And to some extent or other, cataracts affect 90% of people aged over 70.
The crystalline lens, situated behind the iris, is what enables images to be formed at the back of the eye, on the retina. The lens grows throughout life by laying new cells over old ones. A hard, central core begins to form from the age of 30 and a generalised hardening of the peripheral layers occurs between the ages of 65 and 70.
This loss of elasticity in the lens gradually affects its accommodation ability and leads to the development of presbyopia. At the same time an amber colouration develops. This major reduction in visual acuity, which mainly affects distance vision, can be associated with other conditions: diabetic cataracts are the most common but the principal risk factor for developing cataracts is… smoking, followed by exposure to sunlight without wearing glasses that filter the light. The only treatment available involves surgery. Nowadays, the usual method is to remove the faulty lens and replace it with a lens made of synthetic material. All of which can be done in hospital on a day-case basis.