What are cataracts?
A cataract forms when the normally clear lens of your eye becomes cloudy. Cataracts are most commonly due to aging, but some medications can speed up its onset. Sun protection and quitting smoking may slow down the development of cataracts. Cataracts are common in older people. Symptoms may include blurred vision, glare, reduced night vision or decreased contrast of colours.
How are cataracts diagnosed and treated?
Initially cataracts may be managed with glasses but may progress to needing to be removed with an operation to be able to see clearly.
What to expect with cataract surgery?
Almost all operations are carried out under local anaesthetic in a day surgery environment. The operation usually takes about 30 minutes or less, with about a 2-3 hour stay in the hospital. A stay in hospital overnight is generally not needed. Any questions regarding surgery are best discussed with your ophthalmologist.
Prior to Surgery you will visit our clinic to undergo a comprehensive examination by both orthoptist and ophthalmologist will be carried out. The purpose of this examination is so that was can assess the maturity of the cataract, assess any further underlying eye conditions if present and conduct a range of scans to allow for correct lens selection. Various scans that you will have during this consultation consist of:
- OCT- Optical Coherence Topography Imaging: A non-invasive scan used to assess the Retina, Optic Nerve and Macula, to assess any underlying pathology that may present challenges following Cataract Surgery.
- ASCAN – Amplitude Scan: This scan provides measurement data that allows for correct lens selection for Cataract Surgery.
- Humphrey Visual Field (if required) – This assessment is used to test a human’s peripheral visual field to detect (if any) loss is present. Your clinician will inform you if this assessment is required for your condition prior to surgery.
Your ophthalmologist and the clinic will provide information on what you can expect following cataract surgery, along with a discussion regarding the cost of the procedure.
Your surgeon and supporting team will ensure that you feel safe and comfortable prior to surgery. A light sedation from the anaesthetist may be administered to ensure comfort. For further comfort, a local anaesthetic is usually given. Following this the Surgeon will perform the surgery, of which a small incision is utilised to remove the cataract. In total the surgery can last 30 minutes; given no complications are present.
You will be sent home with a protective eye shield covering the operated eye. We will provide you with a pack which consists of post-operative care instructions, along with a range of eye drop medications that must be used following surgery. In most cases, you will have a consultation booked with your Ophthalmologist at 1 day post-operation, then again at 1 week post operation, followed by a 4-week review so we can assess the vision and healing. Whilst everyone is different, healing phases change for each patient. Some patients notice improved vision quickly, whilst others require more time to notice clear vision.
Things to consider:
- Cataract surgery is usually performed as a day procedure.
- We do not operate on both eyes at the same time, each eye is done differently
- Everyone is unique, and healing time can alter for each patient.
- Be sure to not touch your eye following surgery, as this can lead to infection.
- Any glasses used prior to surgery may no longer be useful following surgery. If glasses are needed following surgery, it is best to seek advice from your surgeon on when it may be best to arrange for this.
- It is important to attend your post-operative appointments that your surgeon has arranged for you so we can properly ensure a full recovery.
- Prior to surgery, all measurements and scans need to be done.
- Any prior underlying eye disease/ conditions can influence the potential vision following cataract surgery.
- You may be required to added reviews beyond the 4-week mark if requested by your surgeon.
- It is important you understand how to use the eye drops prescribed to ensure your eye can heal to its best capacity.