cataracts300A few weeks ago I met with a very likeable guy who was approaching retirement and had decided to give Deer Stalking a try.

(Left: The effect of cataracts on vision)

As is usual with beginners I required that he fire a few rounds at a target to insure that he was able to place a well aimed shot. By carrying out this simple test beginners are able to demonstrate their level of ability to their stalking guide and that they are sufficiently up to the job prior to setting out to try for a deer.

However this gentleman had me completely stumped. He had a good grasp of how to use a telescopic sight his posture was good and his aim steady. Yet despite observing these traits I just simply could not get him shooting straight.

We confirmed that he was using his 'master eye' and enhanced his stability in every way possible, but despite all the coaching tricks I could think of I could not get him to place a shot on target.

After some time I apologised to him and explained that we would not be able to proceed with a stalk. I also suggested to him in polite terms that he might like to visit an optician to get things checked out.

A couple of weeks later I received an email from him explaining that his opticians had diagnosed the onset of Cataracts. This was the first time I had come across this in a stalking client and was intrigued to know more. I spoke to Haneyah at Vision Express in Richmond to find out more.  

A cataract is basically a clouding that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye, or in the lens capsule, the effect is varying in degree from slight to complete opacity and obstructs the passage of light.

I asked her why this condition seemed so pronounced when looking at a distant object through an optical lens such as a rifle scope? She explained that the clouding of the eye causes a dispersion of light, this lack of light is then insufficient to cause the eye lens to converge.

Put more simply the muscles around the lens are not stimulated sufficiently and do not contract and the lens does not bend as it should, this in turn causes a distortion of the image which is simply more pronounced at longer distances.

Whilst it seems that some cataracts can be congenital, it is a condition that tends to affect people in later life. Clearly these days the condition is very treatable however usually the condition is left until it worsens before it is treated.

Something worth bearing in mind perhaps if you are finding it harder and harder to shoot accurately. 

For details of the courses that we run for beginners please follow this link: deer-stalking-packages



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