Mr Jeremy Joseph MD, FRCS, FRCOphth.

Consultant Ophthalmologist, Bushey, North London

Cataracts are amongst the most common cause of poor vision. They occur with ageing although they can even be present from birth. When the lens in your eye becomes hazy, this is called a cataract. We generally do not know the exact cause of cataracts. They can be mild, causing very little impairment of vision, but when severe, can cause blindness.

About cataract removal

Initially, merely a change of glasses will rectify the visual problem, but eventually surgery may be necessary. The cataract removal procedure most commonly performed is known as phacoemulsification.

Modern cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure, with very little discomfort, and rapid return to normal activities. It involves removing the hazy, natural lens and replacing it with a plastic lens. The operation is generally done as a day case procedure. Most patients have a local anaesthetic, ie. they are awake for the operation. However some patients prefer to be asleep, ie. a general anaesthetic. Different approaches suit each individual.

There are a number of different types of intra-ocular or replacement lens available and Mr. Joseph will discuss the various options with you. Detailed measurements of the eye are taken with a laser (Zeiss IOL Master) to determine the power and size of the lens required. Surgery is undertaken on one eye at a time for safety reasons, generally separated by two to three weeks.

Before the operation

Before the cataract operation eye drops are give to dilate (widen) your pupil. This makes it easier for your surgeon to see 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 cataract removal operation

You will be asked to lie in a reclined position in a special chair. Most patients have a local anaesthetic, ie they are awake for the operation, however some patients prefer to be asleep ie a general anaesthetic.

Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon will make a tiny cut on the surface of your eye and use ultrasound energy to break up the cloudy lens. The fragments are removed with a fine tube and a new lens is inserted. This usually takes 15 to 20 minutes.

After cataract surgery

Afterwards, your eye may be covered with a protective pad. You may need to wear this for a few hours. It is normal to have an itchy or sticky eye and blurry vision for a few days afterwards. Your eye may also ache, but this generally settles down within 10 to 14 days. There is a slight possibility that your eyelid or eye will be bruised, but again this should settle over a few days. Patients require drops in their eyes for about three weeks after the operation and there is very little limitation on normal activities.

If you would like to find out more or book an appointment with Mr Jeremy Joseph please call 020 8901 5555.

Cataract illustration

Example of a cataract

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