This guideline covers managing cataracts in adults aged 18 and over. It aims to improve care before, during and after cataract surgery by optimising service organisation, referral and surgical management, and reducing complications. It further aims to improve the availability of information for people with cataracts before, during and after cataract surgery.
A cataract is defined as any opacity in the crystalline lens of the eye. It can affect one or both eyes. The changes to the transparency and refractive index of the lens result in various levels of visual impairment. This impairment is associated with decreased quality of life because it may restrict the person's ability to carry out daily activities and function independently, while increasing the risk of accidents and falls.
Cataracts most commonly affect adults as a result of biological ageing (age-related cataracts) and may be classified according to the area of the lens that is affected (nuclear sclerotic, cortical or posterior subcapsular cataracts). Cataracts can also occur in children, and may be classified according to the age of onset (congenital or infantile/juvenile cataracts). This guideline only covers cataracts in people who are 18 years or older.