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Cataract Surgery

What is a cataract?

The eye can be compared to a camera. Light passes through the cornea (the transparent window at the font of the eye), which begins the process of bending (refracting) the light rays. It then passes through the pupil, which is a round opening in the centre of the iris beyond which it travels through the lens. The lens bends the light rays further in order to focus them on the retina (corresponding to the ‘film’ of an old-style camera). Nerve impulses are transmitted from the retina to the visual cortex at the back of the brain to enable us to see.

A cataract is simply a clouding of the lens. It is a normal part of the ageing process, and most people over the age of 60 will have a cataract to some extent. Both eyes are usually affected. Cataracts can occur at an earlier age, and are sometimes caused by steroid-use, direct trauma, diabetes and inflammation inside the eye.

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Cataract Symptoms

Cataracts cause a gradual and progressive blurring of vision. 

However, patients often report other symptoms, including:

  1. A more frequent change of glasses, as the cataract progresses.

  2. Glare, which is particularly noticeable when the sun is low in the sky or when looking at car headlights.

  3. Increasing difficulty seeing in dim light.

  4. Double vision, due to the cataract ‘splitting’ or ‘scattering’ the light rays.

  5. Change of colour vision, with objects typically appearing duller.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should visit your optician in the first instance.

If you feel your quality of life is sufficiently affected or you no longer meet the DVLA criteria to drive, you may wish to ask your optician or GP to refer you to me or you can contact me directly.


Pre-Operative Assessment

The initial consultation involves a detailed assessment of your vision, your eye and general health and your visual requirements. I will advise whether you are likely to benefit from surgery, what choice of lens implant may be appropriate, and what your expectations should be. I will also discuss the risks of surgery as well as the benefits and anaesthetic options. Dilating drops will be used, which may blur your vision for a couple of hours. There will be plenty of time to answer any questions you may have, and, of course, there is no obligation to proceed.

An additional assessment will be required prior to your operation to measure the length and shape of your eye with advanced biometry techniques. This allows me to determine the power of lens implant required for the surgery.


Cataract Surgery

The operation usually lasts about 15-20 minutes, during which time you must lie still and as flat as possible.
Essentially, surgery involves removing your cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear, artificial intraocular lens implant.
The technique used to remove the cataract is called ‘phacoemulsification’.
A 2.75 mm incision is made on the side of the cornea, through which a tiny probe is inserted into the eye. This probe uses ultrasound to soften and break up the cloudy lens, which is then removed by suction. The replacement intraocular lens is folded, and inserted through the incision. It unfolds once in place inside the eye.
There are usually no stitches, and you should be able to return home an hour later.

Eye Doctor
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