Cataract Surgery 

Aftercare Post Surgery 

Cataract FAQs 

What is a cataract? 

A cataract is a cloudy lens in the eye. In the front of your eye you have a lens which focusses images onto your retina. When this lens begins to change from being clear to cloudy, this is a cataract. As cataracts are age-related, we will all eventually get them, however there are some instances where cataract can occur earlier in life. 
 
What are the first signs of having a cataract? 
 
Cataracts typically take years to develop. You may notice deterioration in your vision. Some examples of this occurring might be blurred vision especially in dim light, glare from bright lights (especially car headlights or sunlight), and increased difficulty reading or watching the television. 
 
Anyone can tell you that you have a cataract, but only you can tell what it’s like to look through it. An optometrist (optician) or eye surgeon (ophthalmologist) would be able to tell you after careful examination of your eyes if you have cataracts and what stage they are at. If you have early cataracts and they are not causing any significant problems with your vision, then it is probably best to leave them alone. ‘If it isn’t broke – don’t fix it’. 

Should people get treatment as soon as they notice cataracts? 

If your optician can’t improve your vision with glasses because of cataracts, or your vision is borderline (or below) the driving limit, then it may be worth considering treatment. As a general rule, if the problems you are getting with your vision are affecting your normal day to day life, and you are considering a cataract operation, we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have and can plan to carry out a cataract operation at a time and date convenient for you. 

What is the main cause of cataracts? 

By far the most common cause is ageing changes in the lens of the eye. As we get older changes in the lens cause gradual browning or opacification (cloudy or blurriness). 

What’s the average age for cataracts? 

Most cataracts develop after the age of 60 or 70 years. 

Are there people that are more likely to get cataracts? 

Although we will all get some form of cataracts as we get older. People who have diabetes or other rarer medical conditions can be more likely to develop cataracts at an early stage. 

What kinds of cataract surgery are there? 

The most common type of cataract surgery performed in the UK is modern ‘phacoemulsification’ where we use an ultrasonic handpiece to emulsify the lens and aspirate it before injecting a foldable new high-tech plastic lens in the eye. Rarely if the cataract is very advanced or hyper-mature then a different technique can be used to remove the lens in one piece. 

Are there any other causes? 

Yes, there are. Cataracts may be congenital and present from birth. Trauma, UV light, smoking, chronic dehydration, steroid medication use, and even diabetes are also known to cause cataracts. Previous eye surgery, especially retinal surgery, can also cause cataracts. 

What kinds of intra-ocular lenses are available for cataract surgery? 

The most common type of plastic artificial intra-ocular lens used is an acrylic monofocal lens. This gives the eye a single clear focus (for example clear distance vision for driving), and thus a need for perhaps some weak reading glasses for near vision. Recent advances include enhanced range of focus lenses such as the RayOne EMV. Multifocal or trifocal lenses afford a range of focus, but these diffractive lenses can reduce contrast sensitivity so may not be best for everyone especially if you rely on your vision in dim light (for example driving at night). 
 
Astigmatism is where the cornea, the clear dome at the front of the eye, is more shaped like the side of a rugby ball (in other words more curved in one direction than another) rather than the uniform side of a football or golf ball. Toric intra-ocular lenses are available to correct astigmatism and require a certain amount of precision at the time of surgery to ensure they are placed correctly in the eye. 
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