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Inside the Eye

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  What is Cataract?
Cataract is a condition that affects the lens in the eye. If you imagine that the eye is like a photographic camera, the lens in the eye is the focussing element. It allows light to pass into the eye and focus onto the retina at the back. For this reason it is normally transparent. When cataract develops, the lens becomes yellow, milky and less transparent.

What are the symptoms of Cataract?

These include gradual deterioration in vision. Vision may become blurred and less clear. Bright lights such as sunlight or headlights might give rise to glare. A patient with cataract may notice an unexpected change in their spectacle correction.

Do I need surgery?

We usually advise patients to consider surgery if they notice a change in the quality of their vision that affects their day to day lives. The actual numerical value on the reading chart is less important. For example a patient may see 20/20 but find driving difficult due to glare.

Another consideration is the legal standard for driving. If this is breached then surgery may be advisable if a patient wishes to continue to drive

Can cataracts be removed with laser?

It is not possible to have cataract surgery with laser. 40% of patients develop “after cataract” also known as posterior capsular opacity or PCO. This occurs when the thin transparent bag which holds the lens implant in place becomes cloudy. This condition is treated with a day case laser procedure.


What does cataract surgery involve?

The procedure involves using a fine ultrasound probe to remove the cataract through a tiny incision in the cornea. The cornea is the clear window at the front of the eye. The procedure itself takes approximately 30 minutes although you may be in the operating theatre for a longer time for the anaesthetic.

The cloudy lens is removed, leaving the transparent bag behind – think of removing the chocolate from a smartie sweet and leaving behind the sugar coating which is clear.

A new lens which will have been specially ordered for you to match your prescription will then be placed within the transparent bag. Often there are no stitches.

The operation may be carried out under local anaesthetic or general anaesthetic and may be a day case or involve a one night stay. These details may be discussed with your surgeon.



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