Myths, mysteries and misconceptions: Cataracts

04 September 2019

Spire Elland aims to answer many common health questions, so we asked some of our world-class experts for their expertise. Consultant Ophthalmologists Mr Ziad Estephan, Mr Karnesh Patel and Mr Gbemi Oworu answer your questions on cataracts.

Can cataracts be removed by using lasers?

Mr Karnesh Patel:"Cataract surgery can be assisted by laser if available (still only used in certain places) and the surgeon is trained in its use. A laser can be used to make the incisions in:

  1. The cornea (clear window at the front of the eye)
  2. The lens capsule (thin bag that the cataract sits within)
  3. The lens itself

However, even if the lens has been cut up by a laser, removal still requires the use of traditional "phacoemulsification" (ultrasound) equipment, which is used to suck them out."

Can cataracts grow back?

Mr Ziad Estephan: "No cataracts can never grow back. The cataract is enveloped in a thin membranous bag called a ‘capsular bag'. During surgery, a circular window is cut in the front part of the capsular bag, then the cataract itself is removed by transforming it from hard state to liquid state using ultrasound. Finally, an intraocular lens is implanted in the capsular bag.

Within 15-25% of patients who have had cataract surgery eyesight becomes slightly cloudy over time. This is as the back part of the capsular bag becomes opacified/cloudy and that is when some people think the “cataract came back." Capsular bag opacification is treated in clinic with a short five-minute painless procedure by opening a small window in the capsule using a laser."

Is cataract surgery dangerous for older adults?

Mr Gbemi Oworu "Cataract surgery is one of the common eye operations performed in the UK. It is a relatively safe operation even in older adults. There is no age barrier as long as the individual feels fit enough to undergo the procedure. The operation is often done under local anaesthetic and as a day case. Recovery from the operation is therefore quite prompt and most patients can notice an improvement in their vision within the first week following surgery. However, they may need to wait at least one month before they see their optician to determine if new glasses are required."

 

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