Cataract surgery is one of the most performed surgeries in the UK– approximately 400,000 procedures are carried out each year in England and Wales. Globally, it’s the most effective and safest elective procedures and with technological advancements in artificial lenses, patients have never had more choice in their end result. It’s normal to have some concerns before coming in for treatment, so we have addressed some of the most asked questions below. 
 
A cataract is cloudy lens in the front of the eye. It is an age-related condition where the eyes’ natural lens, known as the crystalline lens, which needs to be transparent to allow you to see clearly, begins to become cloudy. The cloudy patches or browning of the lens cause vision to be blurred. Cataracts can be removed through a procedure that replaces your cloudy natural lens with a clear artificial intraocular lens. 
 
No, they can’t. However, if a patient develops a cataract in one eye, it is likely that they will go on to develop a cataract in the other eye as well, sometimes around the same time, giving the impression that they have spread. 
 
The surgery itself usually takes less than 20 minutes per eye to perform. As surgery is carried out under local anaesthetic, you will be able to return home soon after your treatment. 
 
Cataract surgery is performed using anaesthetic eye drops prior to the procedure, so you won't feel any pain during the procedure although you will feel a little pressure from Mr Dean’s hands on your eyebrow and cheek. After surgery, you might experience some temporary and mild discomfort or grittiness as the anaesthetic wears off. 
 
Most often cataract surgery will be offered on separate days. Mr Dean will discuss your surgery options with you during your consultation. However, yes, both eyes can be treated on the same day. It may be very convenient, and overall speed of recovery after the procedure is improved when both eyes are treated on the same day. Certain very strict protocols are in place to treat each eye operation as a complete separate surgery at the time. This may mean a few minutes delay in between both eye operations, however you will stay in the operating theatre for this interval. 
 
Cataract surgery is a highly effective and low-risk procedure. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are some small risks involved, such as infections (around 1 in 3,000), bruising, or swelling/inflammation. Mr Dean will discuss these with you in detail during your informed consent process. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred your vision will be better after the procedure and there would have been no complications. There is less than one-in-a-hundred chance of a surgical complication necessitating a slightly longer procedure. 
 
Patients usually notice a significant improvement in their vision within a few days after surgery. It might take one or two weeks for your vision to settle completely, as your eye adjusts to the new intraocular lens. Complete healing of the eye can take up to six weeks. Your personal healing process will be monitored and supported during your follow-up appointments. Sometimes, especially in cases of diabetes or retinal problems, the centre of the retina (the macula) may become swollen or oedematous meaning a slightly prolonged recovery and the need for further eye drops. 
 
As your eyes will need time to recover, you must not drive on the day of your surgery. The length of time you need to wait before starting to drive again may depend on several factors. If your vision improves quickly, it is likely you will be able to start driving in the days following surgery. Mr Dean will be happy to discuss with you about the likelihood of your vision meeting driving standards in the weeks following the procedure. 
 
There is no definitive way to prevent cataracts from developing. You should have your eyes tested at least once every 2 years (or more often if recommended to do so) by your community optician. By regularly checking eye health, as with other eye health conditions, cataracts can be detected early and can be treated before the condition worsens. 
 
Early cataracts usually have no symptoms until the clouding of the lens is enough to interfere with or prevent light passing properly through the lens to the back of the eye. Cataracts can cause symptoms such as misty or blurry vision, glare (especially with low sunlight and car headlights) and halos around bright lights, and difficulty seeing at night or in low light conditions. Cataracts can also cause a change in the perception of colour since colours will appear less vibrant and faded when the natural lens becomes cloudy. 
 
The short answer is: By replacing your natural lens. 
 
Cataract surgery removes your cloudy natural lens and replaces it with a premium synthetic lens. The lens is specially designed to improve your vision, so you don't have to rely on glasses and contact lenses. 
 
An ultrasonic probe, rather than a laser, is used to emulsify the cataract and aspirate it before a new artificial plastic foldable intra-ocular lens is injected into the eye. 
 
No, the plastic (usually acrylic) artificial intra-ocular lenses sit safely within the eye. This is unlike contact lenses, which sit on the surface. 
 
Due to the dilating drops and the bright microscope lights, most patients find that their vision is blurred after their surgery. After the procedure, you will rest in the recovery room for a few minutes with the nurse. The following day, you will receive a call from one of the team to see how you are and if you have any concerns. You will notice an improvement in your vision after a few days and sensations such as dry or gritty eyes will usually subside after a couple of weeks. A follow up appointment will be arranged 2-3 weeks after surgery. 
 
Cataract surgery is one of the safest surgeries performed in the world, with millions of successful procedures performed each year. Around 400,000 operations are performed annually in England and Wales alone. 
 
Your treatment is a permanent procedure. Many patients prefer clear distance vision (for example for driving) and then use weak reading glasses for near vision. Extended range of focus lenses may offer more spectacle-independence. An artificial multifocal lens may offer even more spectacle-independence, and Mr Dean will be happy to talk through all options with you, including Toric lenses (to correct astigmatism). 
 
We advise that patients who have undergone a cataract operation to wait a minimum of 3-4 days before going back to work. However, as everyone is different, we will make the best recommendation for you at the time of your surgery. 
 
Prices differ, depending on the type of treatment. The cost of your cataract surgery depends on your prescription and choice of lens. We will be able to provide a better idea of pricing at your first consultation. See our price list for approximate costs. 
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