A cataract is the clouding of the eye's natural lens. Our natural lens lies behind the iris and the pupil and its clouding can lead to vision impairment. Most cataracts are age-related disorders and people older than forty years of age are at a higher risk of developing this condition. They usually develop it in both eyes, though one eye may get affected more than the other.

To understand the cause of cataract, it is important to understand how the eye works. Light rays from an object are transmitted into the eye through the cornea, and focused on the retina by the lens behind the iris. When the lens becomes cloudy, it prevents light from passing through, leading to vision impairment.

The clouding of the lenses occurs as they become less flexible as you age. As tissues and cells in the lens breakdown with age, they clump together and cloud small areas on the eye's lens. This clouded area becomes larger over time, making the disorder to progress slowly as you age.

Other causes of cataracts include eye disorders, other health problems such as diabetes, injury to the eye or past eye surgery. Steroid medications can also cause cataracts.

There are various types of cataracts, depending on which part of the lens gets affected. Some of these are:​

  • ​​A slowly-progressing cataract at the centre of the lens – nuclear cataract.

  • Cataracts affecting the edges of the lens, leading to problems with glare – cortical cataract.

  • A cataract at the back of the lens, mostly affecting reading vision and leading to problems with glare – posterior capsular cataracts.

  • Cataracts that you may be born with – congenital cataracts.

Cataracts are a progressive disorder, meaning the loss of vision increases gradually. If you believe you may be suffering from cataract, you may be able to notice the following symptoms:

  • Cloudy and blurry vision.

  • Difficulty in seeing at night, for instance when driving.

  • Sensitivity to light.

  • Changes in the way you see colour.

  • In some people, distance vision may worsen but their ability to look at things closer by (for example, reading) improves.

  • Problems with glare.

  • Frequently having to get your eye glasses changed.

  • Double vision in one eye.

These symptoms may not be noticeable at first, but become more obvious as the disease progresses.​

If you notice the onset of the above symptoms and changes in your vision, you must visit an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for an evaluation. It is important to get started with treatment earlier to prevent extensive damage to your vision.

You can discuss your symptoms in complete confidence with your ophthalmologist working with the Eye and ENT Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital. This will help your doctor diagnose the cause of vision changes, identify the presence of cataracts and come up with a personalized treatment plan for you.​​

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

Your medical history will be the first step towards making an initial diagnosis of your disorder. After that, a detailed eye examination will be conducted. This will include:

  • A vision exam to check how well you see by making you read an eye chart.

  • A test with a slit lamp to examine your cornea and iris.

  • A dilated eye exam using special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve.

  • A test to measure pressure inside your eye, called a tonometry.

At The Aga Khan University Hospital eye specialists working with the Eye and ENT Service Line are internationally trained in the use of special instruments and procedures to help diagnose your disorder. During your stay at the hospital you will receive multidisciplinary healthcare under one roof at the only internationally accredited hospital of Pakistan.​

The treatment of cataract depends on the extent of your vision impairment. If the cataract has been detected at the very beginning stages with minimal or no loss of vision, your doctor will advise a wait-and-see approach, whereby you will be asked to monitor your symptoms and schedule follow-up visits to help assess if the disease is progressing. It is important for you to go to these follow-up appointments to enable your eye doctor to monitor your cataracts.

In other cases, the following may be suggested:​

  • Change in eye glass or contact lens prescription.

  • Use of anti-glare coatings on clear lenses.

  • Reading with more light​.

In yet other cases where vision impairment starts affecting your normal daily activities, cataract surgery may be the recommended option. In this surgery, the natural affected lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial lens, which significantly helps improve vision. There is usually no rush to get this surgery done if cataracts are not harming the eye, so you must consider the risks and benefits before agreeing to the procedure. Make sure you discuss all concerns with your doctor.

Till the surgery, you may be advised to take certain at-home measures to manage symptoms of cataracts. These may include:​

  • ​Wearing eye glasses and contact lenses with accurate prescription.

  • Use brighter light at home for reading.

  • Wearing sun glasses to reduce glare at day time.

  • Avoid driving at night​.

For a safe and speedy cataract surgery recovery, follow these tips:

  • ​Don't drive on the first day.
  • Don't do any heavy lifting or strenuous activity for a few weeks.
  • Avoid bending immediately after the procedure to prevent putting extra pressure on your eye.
  • To reduce risk of infection, avoid tap water in the eye during the first week.
  • Don't expose your eye to irritants such as makeup, grime, dust and wind during the first few weeks after surgery.
  • Don’t rub your eyes.​​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​                         

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.