Covid-19 has really put the cat amongst the pigeons! According to the charity Eye Health UK, some 5 million eye tests were missed due to the pandemic, raising concerns of undiagnosed optical issues. The growing backlog of untreated cataracts due to lockdown, for example, is set to result in a spike of falls amongst the elderly this winter. This eye condition affects balance as well as vision, putting those who are over 60 more at risk of falling, breaking hips and other injuries. Even a slightly reduced vision can have an impact on your mental health.
So what are cataracts?
David Allamby, celebrity eye surgeon from the London Cataract Centre explained in a recent press release that the Covid-19 shutdown meant that routine appointments were missed. Unfortunately cataracts don’t go away – they tend to worsen over time. Cataracts are caused when an eye lens – the small transparent lens just behind the coloured iris – starts to develop cloudy patches. Generally it is the over 65 age group most at risk, although it can affect people of all ages. Unfortunately studies show that people with cataracts are more at risk of falling but having cataract surgery to both eyes does reduce the risk of falling by 73%. According to the North London Eye Study, half of all people will have cataracts by the age of 80, rising to 75% by the age of 85. Also, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cataracts are responsible for a third of cases of blindness, worldwide, affecting roughly 65 million people. Phew!
The word “Cataract” comes from the Latin “cataracta” meaning “waterfall or floodgate” and refers to the white pupil in advanced cataracts. The time for cataract surgery is when cataracts have advanced sufficiently to impair your eyesight and negatively affect your daily life. Surgery is usually a walk-in, walk out day case procedure using only a local anaesthetic. Cataract extraction surgery with intraocular lens implant for age-related cataracts is the most common surgery in the NHS. In 2019, surgeons performed approximately 400,000 cataract extractions across the U.K.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) suggests speedy diagnosis and treatment is the best defence in controlling eye disease and preventing sight loss. They recommend that everybody has an eye test every 2 years unless otherwise advised by their optometrists.
Contact your optician immediately if:
- painful or red eye
- broken or lost glasses and you can’t function without them
- been referred by NHS111, GP or other health care professionals
- problem with contact lenses
- foreign body in your eye
- worried about your vision or eye health
For pinning later © Linda Hobden
Cataracts surgery can reduce risk of falling by 73 percent: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30197507/Five million routine eye tests have been missed due to lockdown: https://100percentoptical.caboodleai.net/en/article/96240?utm_source=ElasticEmail-sb-100percentoptical&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=100percentoptical-1851-s-en-250920