The normal lens of the eye gradually becomes denser as you get older, which can result in a blurring of the vision. This is the common type of cataract (nuclear sclerosis) that occurs with age, and may result in the patient becoming a little short sighted, with a resulting need for a change in the spectacle prescription.
Other types of Cataract at the front of the lens or at the back of the lens (anterior or posterior sub-capsular cataracts) can also occur.
This can give rise to symptoms of glare and dazzle with lights, for example when driving at night. Some cataracts can be associated with underlying medical conditions.
Our consultant ophthalmic surgeon Mr Mark Benson explains what a cataract is and answers some frequently asked questions.
+ Who needs cataract surgery?
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.
+ How is cataract surgery done?
Cataracts are treated by replacing the cloudy lens of your eye with a new lens. Midland Eye offers two options of surgery.
1. Standard phacoemulsification
This is conventional small incision surgery to break and remove the old cloudy lens 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.
2. The LENSAR laser cataract surgery
We are also able to offer cataract surgery using the latest LENSAR femtosecond laser system which offers the most advanced technology available (that may reduce the time it takes to remove your cataracts).
The LENSAR system provides your surgeon with a unique, high-resolution, 3-D image of your eye that allows your surgeon to tailor your treatment, which can improve visual outcomes.
Please talk to us about the different Cataract treatment options and we will help you decide which is the best for you.
+ How successful is cataract surgery?
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.
+ Mr Wilkes' cataract surgery
Hear what Mr Wilkes has to say about his treatment at Midland Eye.
+ What are the risks of the surgery?
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.
+ What type of anaesthetic is used?
Most cataract surgery is carried out under local anaesthetic. Some patients also find a sedative helpful.
+ How long is the hospital stay?
Most cases can be done as a so called day case procedure, allowing you to go home on the day of surgery.
+ How long is the recovery period?
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.
+ What are the do's and don’ts after cataract surgery?
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.
+ What can you expect after cataract surgery?
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.