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What is it?

The lens inside your eye which focuses light on the back of the eye is no longer as clear as it should be. It is rather like having a greasy smudge on your glasses.


The Symptoms

Blurred vision, which is often worse when driving at night.

How long does it take to become severe?

Over months or years the cataract will become worse; eventually you will no longer be able to drive. If left longer still, reading will become difficult as your vision becomes progressively worse. It can eventually result in reversible blindness.

What are the treatments?

Surgery. ​

During cataract surgery the cloudy lens is removed and a replacement plastic lens is inserted, allowing you to see clearly again, assuming the rest of your eye is normal. You will need to lie as flat and still as possible for between 10-30 minutes, depending on the cataract’s complexity.

The operation is a day case procedure and it is usually performed using local anesthetic drops to numb the eye. Very anxious patients or those who are unable to stay still can opt for a general anesthetic, removing awareness of the procedure.  

During the procedure you will see coloured lights and hear the noise of the phacoemulsification machine working. There should be no pain although you can feel pressure and pulling on the eye.

You can return home shortly after the procedure, and will be given eye drops to use for a few weeks afterwards. It is usual for the first week to wear a plastic shield over the operated eye at night to prevent accidental pressing on the eye.

Corneal Topography

Are there any risks to cataract surgery?

Whilst all operations have complications, cataract surgery is one of the safest. The vast majority of patients have no problems and are delighted with the results.

Will I need to wear glasses after cataract surgery?​

Some people can manage to see in the distance and up close for reading without glasses after cataract surgery with a monofocal lens implant. However most people will need reading glasses, or may prefer to wear varifocals or bifocal glasses for convenience. It is possible to implant multifocal lenses which are a compromise aimed at getting people out of glasses both when driving and when reading. The multifocal lenses (sometimes called premium lenses) offer the best chance of not needing glasses at all after surgery but this comes at a price. They usually cost a lot more and the quality of the vision may be worse than with a fixed focus lens, glare and halos being particular problems. The new generation of enhanced monofocal lens design such as the Eyehance lens which extend depth of focus without significant visual quality problems. This type of lens combined with mini-monovision, where one eye is left in focus for the distance and the other left in focus for closer work gives a realistic chance of spectacle independence with minimal risk of becoming an "unhappy multifocal patient".

How do I choose the best cataract surgeon?

All consultant eye surgeons should be capable of performing a competent cataract operation. You need to consider price, proximity, reputation and specialist expertise. Make sure that the seemingly cheapest option doesn’t include a hard sell of premium lenses, or hidden costs like fees for post-operative checks. A sensible option is an all-inclusive package; also make sure your consultant surgeon is easily contactable to answer your questions or resolve any problems after the operation.

Cataract being operated on

New lens after cataract surgery

Patient Information Sheets

Cataract Surgery (phacoemulsification) with Monofocal Intraocular Lens Implant 

YAG Capsulotomy

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