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You do not need to wait until the cataract is "ripe" anymore. In fact, you can have surgery as soon as your cataract is interfering with your quality of life. You do not have to have a cataract removed just because it is there, but if it is causing you some problems, for example poor vision when it is bright, or difficulty reading road signs when driving, then it would be reasonable to have it removed.
Cataracts are treated by replacing the cloudy lens of your eye with a new lens. There are two options, conventional small incision surgery and bespoke femtosecond laser assisted surgery. The old, cloudy lens is broken and removed using an ultrasound probe. The old lens is replaced by an artificial lens (implant), which is placed inside the eye in the same position as the old one used to be. The strength of the implant is calculated before the operation to ensure that it will suit your eye. The operation is usually carried out through a tiny cut in the eye that seals without any stitches. In fact we can also treat your astigmatism at the same time, if you wish.
The operation is one of the most successful operations around, with more than 95% getting an improvement in the vision. Note that you may have other eye disease that may cause the outcome not to be as good as some patients you may have talked to. However, the operation should still give you improved eyesight.
Cataract surgery, like any other major operation, carries with it the risk of complications although fortunately serious ones are uncommon. The risk of losing one's vision completely, from infection or haemorrhage at the time of surgery, is extremely rare, affecting less than 1 case per 1000 procedures. If minor complications are included, the recent UK National Cataract Surgery Survey found an overall complication rate of 7.5% but this includes surgeries carried out by junior doctors. However in general terms modern cataract surgery is rightly regarded as being one of the most successful and safe procedures carried out in hospitals today. Fortunately if something would go not according to plan, the complications can be managed by experts in their field within our partnership.
Most cataract surgery is carried out under local anaesthetic. Some patients also find a sedative helpful.
Most cases can be done as a so called day case procedure, allowing you to go home on the day of surgery.
Within the first week much of the visual improvement from surgery has already been obtained. The vision may alter slightly over the next four weeks or so, but there is very little change after this. For most people a return to full activity is possible within four weeks of surgery, but it is important to discuss this with your surgeon. It is likely you will have to change your spectacles.
The main thing you should not do after surgery is rub the eye. With modern surgery techniques, bending over, and heavy lifting are not strictly forbidden anymore. Wash your hair with care, making sure that the water does not go into the eye.
For a few days the eye may feel slightly gritty, but this is usually mild. Painkillers are not usually necessary, but drops are used for a few weeks. The eye may be slightly red, but this usually settles over one to three weeks. If the eye goes redder, becomes more painful or you run low on drops you must contact Midland Eye.