What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens within the eye. It is not a growth, film or tumour and does not cause any pain or discomfort of the eye.
Once a cataract starts to form, it will progressively continue to cloud over causing gradual loss of vision in the affected eye. The rate of progression varies from person to person.
What are the symptoms of cataract?
The most common symptom is gradual blurring of vision. Other symptoms may include: glare, change in colour perception, double vision (in the affected eye) and difficulty driving at night.
When should a cataract be treated?
Cataracts seldom require an emergency procedure. The most common reason to consider surgery is when the distance vision becomes hazy with your best distance spectacles. If your best corrected vision is insufficient for driving purposes, then cataract surgery is encouraged if it is likely that the vision will improve with surgery.
What is cataract surgery?
The aim of cataract surgery is to improve your vision. The surgery involves removing the hazy natural lens and replacing it with a small plastic lens. The procedure is usually performed under local anaesthetic and can take between 10-30 minutes surgical time.
Is the procedure done with a laser?
Traditionally, cataract surgery is done with a fine ultrasound probe which emulsifies the lens which is then aspirated. New laser technology is available which “pre-treats” the eye prior to proceeding with surgery. This makes the procedure slightly more precise and slightly safer. The visual results are the same as traditional cataract surgery. The eye surgeons at Armadale Eye Clinic have access to and use the laser during cataract surgery if requested.
Will I need to wear glasses after the surgery?
Prior to surgery, we measure the eye to see what would be the best lens to insert in your eye in order to provide you with perfect distance vision. This is achieved in the majority of cases. Most people require reading glasses after bilateral cataract surgery for fine print. New technology is available where the inserted lens allows you to see in the distance and near without glasses, however, these can result in haloes post surgery but are a good option to consider if you would lie to be “glasses free” after the surgery.
What are he risks associated with cataract surgery?
Like all invasive procedures, cataract surgery has risks. Any complication can have an affect on the final visual outcome. These complications include:
Infection in the eye or endophthalmitis (Risk 1:1000 per operation)
Loss of lens material into the back of the eye (would require a second procedure)
Failure to achieve the desired refractive outcome (you may require spectacles to see perfectly in the distance)
What does the procedure involve?
After admission to the day surgery centre, you will be introduced to your anaesthetist who may give you some “calming medication”. Eye drops will be inserted in the eye to be treated. You will then have the laser pre-treatment if you have elected to o so. Then you will be escorted into the main theatre for the actual procedure.
The eye will have a patch on after the procedure and you will have to leave the eye pad on until you are assessed by your surgeon the following day.