Cataracts of the Eye

A cataract occurs when the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy. The lens is situated behind the iris (coloured part of the eye). The lens works just as a camera lens works. It focuses light coming through the eye onto the retina. It also changes shape, adjusting focus, allowing us to see clearly from near to far.

As we get older small areas of the lens starts to become cloudy, preventing light from going through to the retina. With time larger areas of the lens become cloudy making it more difficult to see.

Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts

In the initial stages, cataracts may have little effect on your vision. As it grows, you may notice your vision become a little hazy, like looking through a misty window. Sunlight and indoor lighting looks a little brighter than normal. Night driving becomes difficult as oncoming headlights cause a lot of glare. Also, colours are not as bright as they were before.

Some types of cataracts don’t cause any symptoms until it is quite mature. Other cataract types sometimes result in an improvement in your near vision, called “second sight”. This improvement is short lived as your vision deteriorates as the cataract grows.

If you think you have a cataract, visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist for an exam to find out for sure.

Causes of Cataracts

  • The most common cause of cataracts is ageing.
  • Exposure to ultraviolet light. Optometrists always recommend the use of sunglasses to minimize your eye’s exposure to the sun
  • Other types of radiation

  • Diabetics. Being diabetic increases your risk of developing cataracts.
  • Using steroids
  • Eating a lot of salt. Diets high in antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E may slow down cataract development.
  • Cigarette smoke and alcohol consumption.

Treatment of Cataracts

In the initial stages a change in your spectacle prescription may improve your vision. As the cataract grows, the only option is surgery. Surgery is normally recommended when the cataract has grown to a point where it significantly impairs your vision and affects your daily life.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is very successful in restoring your vision and it is relatively painless. During surgery, the surgeon removes the cloudy lens (cataract) and replaces it with an intra ocular lens (artificial lens). If you have cataracts in both eyes the surgery is done one eye at a time, usually a few weeks apart.

After surgery, the eye is covered with a protective shield and within a few hours you will be ready to go home. You will need someone to drive you.

Over the next few weeks you will need to administer eye drops daily and wear sunglasses to protect you from glare. You may have slightly blurry vision which will improve as the eye heals.

During the first few weeks try to avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activity like exercise. Also, try to avoid swimming pools and hot tubs as they can cause serious eye infections.

Complications during or after cataract surgery is , but sometimes does happen. However, even serious complications can be resolved with appropriate follow up treatments.

Many people consider poor vision an inevitable fact of ageing, but cataract surgery is a simple, relatively painless procedure to regain vision.

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    Eye Strain Headache Relief

    Think you have an eye strain headache? Do you suffer with headaches whenever you try to read a novel or a textbook or any fine print? Do you find it strenuous for your eyes to watch TV? Do your eyes feel tired and sore after prolonged computer work? Looking for some eye strain headache relief? Today you will learn all about eyestrain from an optometrist and I will even give you my top 10 tips to help eye strain relief by yourself.


    If you answered YES to any of the above questions, you could be suffering with an eyestrain headache. Most of us cause these types of headaches ourselves by constantly over exposing our eyes to television, computer screens and video games.

    What is Eye Strain?

    Eyestrain is a common form of eye discomfort that occurs when the eyes tire after you have been doing a particular visual task for prolonged periods, such as spending several hours in front of the computer.

    Symptoms of eye strain include headaches, painful or uncomfortable eyes and vision problems. These eye strain symptoms are normally not present when you wake up but normally come on by visual tasks like reading. Most often, what you need is a new pair of glasses or contact lenses, or maybe the muscles that align the eyes are strained and just need a rest.

    What Causes Eyestrain?

    Focusing your eyes for prolonged periods on a fixed object, especially between 40cm and 80cm. Eyes are strained more by close viewing than distance viewing.

    Poor lighting. Near work under poor lighting conditions causes the eyes to focus under difficult conditions.

    Glare, either direct or reflected, makes it difficult to see. Direct glare would be glare directly into the eyes form bright overhead lighting or sunlight through a window. Reflected glare would be from your computer screen. As your eyes strain, facial and eye muscles tighten.

    Contrast is the difference between the brightness of the object being viewed and its immediate environment. Excessive contrast will lead to eyestrain.

    Vision problems. With blurred vision, you will get a headache in no time! You may be straining to see because you need corrective spectacles or you may need to update your current spectacle or contact lens prescription. This just means that you are creating too much strain on your eyes without giving the proper rest or the required nourishment the delicate tissues and blood vessels around your eyes.

    Symptoms of Eye Strain

    • Headaches
    • Blurred or double vision
    • Pain in the eye
    • Red, watery eyes
    • Dry eyes that feel scratchy or uncomfortable
    • Heaviness of the eyelids or forehead
    • Back aches and neck aches
    • Spasm of the muscles surrounding the eyes
    • Twitching of the eyelid

    How is Eye Strain Treated?

    Having eye strain does not mean that you should stop using the computer or reading or watching television. You should identify the cause of the eyestrain and correct it. This would involve:

    • Having a comprehensive eye examination to see if you require spectacles and to rule out any eye disease or eye disorder as well as to make sure that your current spectacle or contact lens prescription is correct.
    • Assessing your work environment. A professional trained in ergonomics may be helpful in arranging your workstation to reduce eye strain. You can get your free desk ergonomics copy of “SOS My Desk” from Pineslopes Chiropractic Clinic. Just email the chiropractors and ask for SOS My Desk.

    10 Tips To Help Relieve Eye Strain:

    So here it is an optometrists Top 10 Tips to help eye strain relief:

    1. Ensure that your computer screen and reading material is not too close to your eyes.
    2. Take a 2 minute break from your computer after every hour. Do this by looking into the distance or by simply closing your eyes. Slowly blinking the eyes a number of times may also help give the eyes a gentle massage.
    3. Focusing your eyes between two different focus distances can tire the eyes. Always try to keep your reading material at the same distance as your computer screen.
    4. Work stations and lighting should be arranged to avoid direct and reflected glare. Place the computer where there is no glare from windows or light and keep screens clean and dust free. Using a glare filter on your computer screen also helps.
    5. The computer monitor should be slightly below eye level. This will allow you to look downward at the screen and allow you to blink more frequently and thus prevent dry eye.
    6. Wear sunglasses that reduce glare and offer 100% UV protection while driving or working outside. This reduces strain on the eyes and prevents squinting which may tire eye and facial muscles.
    7. When reading, knitting or drawing, hold your material about 40cm from your eyes. Also, use adequate soft light (a 60 watt bulb).
    8. Room lighting should never be as bright as your computer screen. Find a way to darken the area around the computer screen.
    9. While watching TV, the room lighting should be 50% dimmer than the screen. Do not watch in total darkness though as this makes the contrast in light too great. Also sit at a reasonable distance away from the TV. Too close viewing distances can also cause eyestrain.
    10. For those of you enjoy doing yoga, there are some asanas and exercises specifically addressed to your eyes. This is beneficial to you from all aspects.

    Hope this helps you get some eye strain headache relief soon. If any problems or questions please call us at Pineslopes Optometrists on 011 465 4028/9 or via our optometry contact page.

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      Sport Vision Improvement

      Do you want some sports vision improvement? Do you wish you could cut a few strokes off your golf score? Or do you always seem to be just a few steps away from the soccer ball? Maybe your having trouble returning your tennis partner’s serve? Vision, just like speed and strength, is an important component in how well you play your sport. There is much more to vision than just seeing clearly. Your vision is composed of many interrelated skills that can affect how well you play your sport. Just as exercise and practice can increase your speed and strength, it can also improve your visual fitness and accuracy.

      Photo Credit: Richard Masoner
      Because all sports have different visual demands, an optometrist with expertise in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommend the proper sport prescription glasses, sport contact lenses, or design a vision program to maximize your visual skills for your specific sport.

      Remember, a thorough eye examination by your optometrist is a great place to get the winning edge.

      Eye protection should also be a major concern to all athletes, especially in certain high-risk sports. There are thousands of sports related eye injuries each year, and nearly all can be prevented by using proper protective eyewear. For outdoor sports, appropriate sunglasses are a must, and some sport-specific designs may even help you improve your game. Ask your optometrist which type is best suited for your favorite sport.


      Sportsvision describes all the aspects of vision required in sport. It is much more complex than simply recording how well you can read a vision chart, or see straight ahead.

      A sports vision assessment would record:

      • Visual Acuity-how well you can see straight ahead of you
      • Eye Dominance
      • How well the eyes work together to provide 3D vision. This is directly related to timing and accuracy. Striking a ball or aiming at a goal.
      • Peripheral awareness.
      • Eye speed and ability to follow a moving target.
      • Ability to cope with poor contrast
      • Which colour filters improve your vision?


      Dynamic Visual Acuity

      If you are playing a sport like squash, tennis, rugby, soccer or hockey, it is important that you are able to see objects while you and/or the objects are moving. Without good dynamic visual acuity, these sports will be difficult for you.

      Visual Concentration

      When you miss an easy ground ball or a short putt, it may be that you are distracted by things around you. Our eyes normally react to movements in our periphery (spectators, other players or even birds flying nearby in the distance. Visual concentration is the ability to screen out these distractions and stay focused on the ball or the target.

      Eye Tracking

      Playing any sport with a fast moving ball or opponent, it is important that you be able to follow objects without much head motion. Eye tracking helps you maintain better balance and react more quickly.

      Eye-Hand-Body Co-ordination

      This is how your hands, feet, body and other muscles respond to the visual information gathered through your eyes. This is vital in most sports as it affects both timing and body control.

      Visual Memory

      When you are running towards a soccer or hockey goal or running between wickets, you need to process and remember a fast moving, complex picture of people and things. This is visual memory. The athlete with good visual memory always seems to be at the right place at the right time.


      Picture yourself hitting a perfect drive or scoring a goal from a free-kick. Believe it or not, picturing yourself doing it can actually help you do it. Visualization is the skill that enables you to see yourself performing well in your “mind’s eye” while your eyes are seeing and concentrating on something else, usually the ball. Using scanning techniques, researches have found that the same areas of the brain that light up during performance also do so when you visualize the performance.

      Peripheral Vision

      When a soccer player sees a teammate out of the corner of his eye, he is using his peripheral vision. Since much of what happens in sports does not happen directly in front of you, it’s important to increase your ability to see action to the side without having to turn your head.

      Visual Reaction Time

      The bowler releases the cricket ball and you swing a little late and you hit a weak drive down the ground or worse, you miss the ball completely. Or, maybe you have difficulty returning that tennis serve. You need to improve your visual reaction time, or the speed with which your brain interprets and reacts to your opponent’s action.

      Focus Ability

      The split second that it takes you to change focus from an object far away to one near you may delay your reaction time and cause you to frequently miss a bowler’s fast ball or miss an easy volley.

      Depth Perception

      In tennis or squash, depth perception enables you to quickly and accurately judge the distance between yourself, the ball, your opponent, teammates, boundary lines and other objects. When shooting or hunting, if you consistently over or underestimate the distance to your target, poor depth perception may be at fault.

      Vision Options for Athletes

      Enhanced sports vision skills can give an athlete a competitive advantage. Sports vision specialists can help you improve hand-eye coordination and get good protective eyewear to prevent eye injuries.

      Sport Contact Lenses

      Contact lenses give you a competitive advantage in sports, especially when it comes to providing a wider field of view.

      Eyeglasses that Enhance Sport Performance

      Glasses offer eye protection, colour enhancements, light control or a combination of features.

      Sports Vision Specialists

      Sports vision specialists can assess your athletic performance, as well as offer comprehensive training. They are eye care practitioners that have an in-depth, functional understanding of the physiology of the visual system and its importance in relation to the specific sport the athlete is involved in. They also understand the demands each sport has on the visual system before a treatment/therapy can be implemented for the athlete. Sport vision specialists also advise athletes and coaches on the prevention of eye injuries in sport as well as first aid treatment of such injuries.

      Sport Vision Tests and Therapies

      Improve eye-hand-body coordination, ability to track a moving object or improve depth perception. Sports vision therapy aims to treat a wide variety of problems that athletes face.

      Orthokeratology for Athletes

      These eye-shaping contact lenses worn only at night are a safe vision correction alternative for athletes.


      In most sport, vision is the dominant sense. One would think that seeing clearly is all that is needed to make vision dominant, right? However, vision skills required in sport are much more complex. For example, catching a ball is an extremely complicated action. Visual information from your eyes tells you where the ball is in space. Using this information, you have to judge the speed of the ball, its direction and you need to estimate where the ball will be when it is within catching distance. This all happens within a matter of milliseconds.

      Catching a ball is just one of the many actions occurring in sport and the eyes give you the visual information to perform these tasks. Studies have shown that about 23% of athletes have visual problems and about 33% for umpires, referees and officials. These deficiencies can all be corrected by a sports vision optometrist.

      If you feel that your sport performance could need some improvement, consider seeing a sports vision optometrist. Not all optometrists have an interest in sports vision and some differ in their level of expertise. Always make sure you ask the right questions i.e. level of experience, do they have all the necessary equipment to evaluate sports vision skills? Etc.

      Vision plays an important role in all sport. Improving your visual skills could make all the difference to your enjoyment of your sport.

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