A cataract is a gradual clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the pupil and the coloured iris. Your lens is made up of protein and water, and cataracts occur when the protein in the lens gathers in a way that prevents light passing onto the light sensitive retina at the back of the eye. Thus, when the lens becomes clouded, vision is impaired.
Cataracts are a very common, painless condition. They are the cause of around one third of the world’s visual impairment and about half of all incidences of blindness, particularly in lower-middle income countries.
There are several different types of cataract which include:
The most common form that occurs with time.
Related to other systemic medical illness or medical treatment.
Following an injury to the eye.
Cataracts are more common in patients over the age of 65. They may affect one or both eyes. The most common symptoms associated with cataracts include gradual blurring of vision and glare, particularly in lowlight. Cataracts can have a severe impact on your quality of life and abilityto do everyday tasks such as reading and driving. If left untreated they can result in blindness.
There is only one effective treatment for cataracts, which is surgical removal and introduction of an artificial lens implant into the eye. Cataract surgery is the most common surgery performed in the UK with a success rate of around 99%.
WHAT WILL THE PROCEDURE ENTAIL?
Cataract surgery usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes. Itis generally performed as a local anaesthetic, day case procedure. This means you will be awake throughout the surgery but should not feel anything sharp or uncomfortable and you can go home the same day. During the operation you will lie on a bed looking up at a bright light. You may feel drops of water on the eye and may experience colours and movement, but you will not be aware of specific details from the procedure.
The operation is performed my making a tiny cut on the surface of your eye. A special ultrasound probe is used to remove the cloudylens and replace it with a new clear artificial lens. To finish the operation an antibiotic is infused into the eye to lower the chance of post-operative infection.
WILL I NEED GLASSES AFTER MY SURGERY?
Cataract surgery can help to eliminate or reduce your dependence on glasses, however pre-existing or future long or short-sightedness may still exist. For this reason, we suggest that all patients see their own optician at 4-6 weeks following the operation, to get an up-to-date refraction, which may improve their vision further, however most people function very well without glasses
HOW QUICKLY WILL BE VISION BE RESTORED?
Following surgery, you will be given a clear plastic shield to protect the eye. You may note that the vision will still be blurry for the first few days. The rate of recovery varies from person to person; however, we would expect the vision to improve after the first few days, reaching a peak when you see your optician at 4-6 weeks.
WILL THERE BE ANY PAIN?
You should experience no pain during the procedure. If at any stage you feel something sharp or uncomfortable, the operation can be paused, and extra anaesthetic administered.
DO I NEED TO STAY OVERNIGHT?
No. The operation is a day case procedure. You should expect to be with us for half a day in total, allowing for preoperative checks, the procedure itself and sometime to relax following it. Please arrange to come with a friend or family member that can escort you home.
WHAT IS THE AFTERCARE REQUIRED?
Following the surgery, a clear plastic shield will be taped over the eye. This can be removed the next day. We will provide you with two eyedrops to be used which can be started the morning after the surgery. One is an antibiotic drop which aims to reduce the chances of infection, this is usually prescribed four times a day for one week. The second drop is a steroid drop which reduces any post-operative inflammation, this is usually prescribed four times a day for four weeks.
WHEN CAN I GO BACK TO WORK/ WHEN CAN I DRIVE?
The exact timings for this vary from person to person. Generally speaking, we advise 2-3 days of rest and relaxation. After this most people feel comfortable to go about their day to day activities. If you have any concerns regarding your specific profession, then please let the surgeon know before the procedure and they can advise accordingly.
WHAT TO DO IF I HAVE CONCERNS?
Following the operation, it is quite normal to experience grittiness, watering, blurred vision or a red/bloodshot eye. If you notice a sudden reduction in vision, increased pain or if the eye becomes very sticky, then we would ask you to contact our department straight away.
CAN I HAVE BOTH EYES DONE AT ONCE?
Typically, we perform surgery on one eye and then the next.Even though the risk of a sight threatening infection after the surgery is less than 1 in 1000 patients, we still feel that operating on both eyes at once it is a risk not worth taking. There are a few specific circumstances in which we may consider this option, but that will be discussed face-face with your consultant.