Cataracts

What is a cataract?

A cataract is the opacification of the natural crystalline lens in the eye. Most cataracts develop slowly and they will increasingly impair vision over time. There is no cure for cataracts. They can only be removed by surgery and at the same time a small lens implant replaces the natural lens of the eye.

What is it like to have a cataract?

Cataracts mostly develop slowly, and in both eyes, so you may not have been aware that you had them. You might have noticed increasing difficulty with visual tasks such as reading and driving, especially in more dimly lit environments. You may find that colours dull and your vision gradually become cloudy. New spectacles will not fix the cataract and you may not notice any improvement in vision with a new script.

Do I have to have cataract surgery?

Cataracts do not damage the eye in normal situations.  It is quite safe to postpone cataract surgery if you are unsure about proceeding. With cataract, your vision will decline slowly over a period of 1-3 years. Some internet pages may claim that some medicine or natural remedy will remove or dissolve a cataract – this is simply not true.

What will happen to me before cataract surgery?

Firstly the Ophthalmologist takes some measurements on your eyes to determine what size lens to implant in your eye. They usually do measurements on both eyes at the same time.

You will be given more information by your Ophthalmologist about the timing of surgery. They never operate both eyes on the same day therefore most people have one eye operated on, followed by the second eye 2-4 weeks later.

What will happen to me on the day of surgery?

Cataract surgery is usually performed as a day surgery procedure. While there is no need to stay overnight, some patients who live alone may choose to spend one or two nights in Hospital. Usually you will be in the day hospital unit for about three hours in total. The surgery takes 20-30 minutes and is performed under local anaesthetic. You will be mildly sedated during the operation, but will feel no pain or discomfort. It is normal to feel a little anxious before and during the operation and we will make sure you are comfortable and relaxed when you come to have your surgery. The natural lens of the eye is broken up, removed, and replaced with an artificial lens. Most Ophthalmologists uses the new femtosecond laser to perform some of the important manual parts of surgery with great precision and accuracy. 

After surgery you will go home with a clear plastic shield over the eye and you will have instructions regarding eye drops. It is expected that the eye will feel a little bit gritty or mildly uncomfortable for a day or so after surgery. 

Complications of Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is well tolerated.

Most people will have a 99% chance of seeing better following surgery. This will not be the case if you have a pre-existing eye condition such as macular degeneration or glaucoma and your Ophthalmologist will alert you to this if it applies to you.

All operations carry risks and one in a thousand (1/1000) people will have a major complication such as infection, bleeding or a major intra-operative complication.