Cataracts are a common cause of visual impairment. The eye has a lens, which is situated behind the iris (the colored part of the eye). In the early stages of the condition spectacles may be sufficient to treat the cataracts. However, the main form of treatment once symptoms progress, is surgery. A cataract occurs when the lens becomes cloudy; when significant, affected individuals notice problems such as blurring of vision, difficulty with glare when night driving and difficulty with reading. It is commonly generally an age related change although medications, injuries, effects of retinal/vitreous surgery and also illnesses such as diabetes can cause cataracts to develop prematurely.
Surgery is carried out as a day procedure in hospital. In the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed under local or topical anaesthetic. The operation involves removing the cloudy lens using a phacoemulsification (ultrasonic) probe and replacing it with an artificial lens. The operation takes between 15-30 minutes to perform. Most patients can be discharged from hospital the same day and are then reviewed post operatively the subsequent day, then at week one and week 4 or 5 post operatively at which point appropriate spectacle correction can be prescribed to correct for any residual refractive error that may exist.
During the postoperative period, Antibiotic and Steroid (anti inflammatory) drops are applied several times per day to aid healing and recovery and reduce postoperative discomfort. Essentially the operation itself is relatively pain free and there is minimal postoperative discomfort. Light sensitivity, glare, halos around lights, slight irritation and slight blurring of vision are common symptoms especially in the first few days after surgery. Answers to frequently asked questions are attached. The procedure has a very high success rate and is one of the most common operations performed by the surgeons at Waverley Eye Clinic
Surgery is performed by our surgeons at the following locations:
Prior to undergoing surgery, after a full ophthalmic examination, biometry is undertaken to determine the intraocular lens power required for each individual case. Measurement of the corneal curvature (keratometry) and ocular axial length is undertaken and the results are used in various formulas to determine the lens power. Ordinarily, intraocular lenses are monofocal with a fixed, single focal distance. Usually the aim is to render the patient’s eye emmetropic postoperatively meaning that minimal or no refractive/spectacle lens power is necessary for distance vision. Thus, glasses are necessary for near vision tasks. A variety of multifocal lenses are available for selected patients that provide a degree of unaided near vision as well as concurrently providing distance acuity. These lenses have some limitations and are not appropriate for all patients so these options need to be discussed at length with the treating surgeon. The artificial lenses are made of either acrylic or silicone materials and are inert when implanted into the eye.
The results of cataract surgery are usually excellent with the vast majority of patients achieving an improvement in vision. In some patients after surgery the vision may deteriorate due to the development of posterior capsular opacification behind the intraocular lens implant. This can be treated by YAG Laser Capsulotomy completed as an outpatient procedure in the clinic under topical (drops) anaesthesia.
Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery