Your eye is very similar to a camera. Inside the eye there is a lens which sits behind the pupil.
The eye’s ability to focus depends on three main factors: the shape of the cornea (which is known as the 'window of the eye': the clarity of the crystalline lens inside the eye; and the axial length of the eye. Refractive errors can occur with abnormality in any of these areas of the eye.
- myopia (short-sightedness), where objects in the distance appear blurred or out of focus
- hyperopia (long-sightedness), which affects people’s ability to see objects close to them.
Long-sightedness often becomes more noticeable after the age of 40 and this is known as presbyopia
- cataracts become increasingly common with age and are cloudy patches in the lens of the eye, which can make vision blurred or misty. Early cataracts are a cause of glare around light
Cataract removal involves removing the cloudy lens in your eye and replacing it with a clear artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to restore vision. The cataract removal procedure most commonly performed uses ultrasound energy (also known as phacoemulsification).
Lens exchange (clear lens exchange / refractive lens exchange) can also be performed to eliminate the need for distance and near-glasses or contact lenses. The procedure is similar to cataract removal. This type of lens exchange is generally most suitable for people over 45 years of age, who are already wearing reading glasses and patients who are unsuitable for laser eye surgery.
About premium lenses
Traditional IOLs used during cataract surgery are monofocal, meaning they offer vision at only one distance (usually aimed for far vision). This means that you are likely to still need reading glasses for close and intermediate distance work.
IOLs are considered premium or advanced when they offer benefits that are unavailable in conventional IOLs. Such benefits include, for example, correction of vision for near and distance similar to varifocal glasses or correction for existing astigmatism.
About cataract and refractive lens exchange surgery
Before the operation
Before the operation, eye drops are given to dilate (widen) your pupil. This makes it easier for your surgeon to access and remove the lens inside your eye. You won’t be able to see out of your eye as it is being treated, but you may be aware of light and movement. This is normal and to be expected.
During the operation
Local anaesthetic eye drops will be put into your eye to numb the outer surface so as to avoid any pain during the procedure. Sometimes a local anaesthetic is given around the eye to imrpove the anaesthetic effect. Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon will make a tiny incision on the cornea and use an ultrasound probe to break up the lens. The fragments are removed with a fine tube and a new lens is inserted. The procedure takes 20-30 minutes.
After the operation
Immediately after the operation your eye may be covered with a protective shield. You may need to wear this for a few hours. It is normal to have slightly blurry vision for 48 hours and vision continues to improve over the following week. Your eye may also ache, but this generally settles down within 24 hours. There is a slight possibility that your eyelid or eye will be bruised, but again this should settle over a few days.
How safe is it?
Cataract removal and refractive lens exchange is one of the most commonly performed operations and is generally safe. However as with all operations, it carries risks. Possible complications include bleeding, infections, capsule tear and requirement for second surgery to address complications - in rare cases these can lead to reduced vision or blindness. Your consultant will be able to discuss individual risks at your initial consultation.
Why should I consider having surgery at a Spire hospital?
Whether you have medical insurance (BUPA, AXA, etc) or are paying for your treatment yourself, with Spire Healthcare you will be seen quickly by the consultant-grade doctor of your choice at a time that suits you. You will be treated in a premium private hospital with some of the UK's highest standards of cleanliness and infection control.