Cataracts – Everything you need to know
Most commonly associated with age, cataracts are a very common problem. They are the technical term for a clouding or frosting of the eye’s lens, which can significantly reduce your ability to see clearly and will slowly get worse over time.
But don’t worry – we are experienced in helping get the vision of those affected by cataracts back to normal. Modern surgery means that your cataracts can be operated on at quite an early stage, without them needing to be overly impactful on your life before you get sorted.
Let’s get started by answering some of the basic questions surrounding cataracts.
A cataract is defined as a clouding of the lens of your eye, which leads to your vision progressively becoming worse. As we age, the lens of the eye hardens and enlarges, which leads to difficulty with viewing objects close to you which is known as Presbyopia. As this progresses vision deteriorates and once your lens is this damaged, you will not be able to rectify sight issues with a new prescription. This is usually to do with age but can also be a result of diabetes or trauma.
As mentioned, the main symptoms of a cataract will be a clouding of your vision e.g. struggling to read fine print. This can also include blurriness or faded colours. Another symptom is finding that lights can appear bright or glaring, or simply they become uncomfortable to look at e.g. glare with on-coming headlights at night.
Cataracts can be operated on early on, due to modern surgical advances. There is no specific moment at which surgery becomes less or more urgent. As a rule of thumb, cataracts should be treated when they are discovered or when your life becomes more impacted by them. There is no truth to maturity or ‘ripeness’ being an issue with operations.
Whilst some people may find the idea of surgery scary, there is no need to be nervous. We are experienced in offering our patients the most advanced surgery with the quickest recovery times possible, meaning you can get your sight back to normal in no time.
On the day you come in to the hospital, we will dilate your pupil by using eye drops. This will then be washed to ensure it is clean for the operation. A local anaesthetic will be administered, and the painless procedure will take around 15-20 minutes. Ultrasound energy technology, known as phaco-emulsification, means we can liquify the lens and remove it. A new lens is inserted using an injection system and positioned within the eye.
What lens choices do I have
David Anderson is a refractive cataract surgeon which means that we are able to offer a wide range of lens technologies to suit different lifestyles. These can include toric lenses to treat astigmatism, multifocal lenses to improve sight for near and distance and extended depth of focus lenses for active outdoor people. David has used multifocal and special lens types for over 16 years and has published some of the largest studies in astigmatism;
- Distribution of preoperative and postoperative astigmatism in a large population of patients undergoing cataract surgery in the UK
AC Day, M Dhariwal, MS Keith, F Ender, CP Vives, C Miglio, L Zou, DF Anderson
British Journal of Ophthalmology 103 (7), 993-1000
- Global prevalence and economic and humanistic burden of astigmatism in cataract patients: a systematic literature review
DF Anderson, M Dhariwal, C Bouchet, MS Keith
Clinical ophthalmology (Auckland, NZ) 12, 439
After surgery, you will rest for a short period at the hospital with refreshments, before going home. You will have a dressing pack to swab your eye the next day, and some anti-inflammatory eye drops as well as antibiotics to use at home. If you have another cataract surgery booked, this will usually take place within 7 days of the first.
Post surgery you can expect to see a dramatic improvement in your vision. For a few days you may have slight blurring of vision, and we suggest that you arrange transport home from the hospital for this reason. Sometimes there is some discomfort as the new lens fits in properly, but this should not cause any pain. After this point, you should notice your improved vision quickly and can begin getting back to your normal routine. However, we recommend avoiding strenuous lifting for another week after surgery.
The eye which is healing will need time to focus properly in line with the other eye, even more so if you are suffering from a cataract in the other eye. Driving will be individual to each case, so ask your surgeon when they think it will be suitable for you to get back behind the wheel. You should have an appointment two weeks after surgery, and then meet your optometrist four weeks after that to discuss your new glasses.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you choose to have your surgery with us, you will receive all the answers to any questions you have directly from our team. We are always on hand to help allay any concerns patients may have before, during or after surgery. Here are a few answers to some of the more common questions we hear.
Risks with these surgeries are low, and David Anderson has performed many thousands of operations with great results throughout. However, this is ultimately a surgical procedure and there is a very small risk of complication. This can include infection, macular oedema, floaters or very rarely retinal detachment. If you are anxious about potential complications, please call us and we will help alleviate any concerns you have.
The IOL implants are usually left in place for life, they are biologically inert and are made from acrylic polymers.
Yes, you can choose a monofocal or multifocal lens. The former will offer optimisation for driving and watching television but may require you to still wear reading glasses. Multifocal minimise the need for spectacles, however can offer unwanted effects from light scatter – although this is minor.
You can fly on the day of surgery but it is advisable to remain local to the hospital for the first few weeks after surgery. This means, however unlikely, we can deal with any problems you encounter.
If you want to talk through your options for cataract surgery or discuss any elements of the procedure further, use our contact form here or call us on 02380 258421.
Nb we have lots of printed information as well as explanatory animations to supplement our consultations