If you have been told that you have a cataract, don’t worry.
Every year over 14.2 million cataract surgeries are performed worldwide. It is the number one surgical procedure for people over 65 years.

Today’s cataract procedure is safer, faster and more comfortable than ever before.

WHAT IS A CATARACT

The lens of the eye is made mostly of water and protein. As the eye ages, some of the protein may clump together. This can start to cloud small areas of the lens, blocking light from reaching the retina and interfering with vision. This is a cataract.

At first the cloudiness may affect only a small part of the lens. But over time, the cataract may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, interfering with vision.

HOW CATARACTS DEVELOP

The speed of cataract development depends on the type and position. A localised central cataract may take only months, where as a gradual change in the density of the whole lens may take many years to reach a point where it adversely affects vision. Some people first notice a cataract as a reduction in reading vision, other people may experience a greater problem with distance or driving vision. And some may notice increasing glare when looking toward a light.

HOW CATARACTS AFFECT YOUR LIFESTYLE

Typical signs of cataracts include:

  • Clouded, blurred or dim vision
  • Increasing difficulty with vision at night
  • Sensitivity to bright sunlight or oncoming lights at night
  • Halos around lights
  • The need for brighter light for reading and other activities
  • Frequent changes in your eyeglasses or contact lens prescriptions
  • Fading or yellowing of colours
  • Double vision or ghost images in one eye

TREATING A CATARACT

The decision to treat a cataract at the Cambridge Eye Clinic is reached by you and Dr English, based on the degree to which the cataract is impairing your vision.

Since there is presently no medical treatment for cataracts, the best option is cataract removal. After the cataract is removed, an artificial lens is inserted into the eye to restore vision. The lens is called an Intraocular lens, or IOL for short. These can be monofocal or multifocal depending on what is best for your eye and your lifestyle. The multifocal IOL in suitable candidates can give you the ability most of the time to see clearly in the distance and read without glasses.

The latest generation of IOLs have a unique design at the edge of the lens to minimise glare and to provide the best colour vision while still filtering out ultra-violet rays. They are made of either clear silicone or acrylic materials, the most advanced on the market today.

A NEW LENS FOR BETTER VISION

Once you and Dr English have decided on cataract removal, he will choose an IOL that will fit your eye and give you the best possible vision.

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE SURGERY

Today, cataract removal is generally performed as a day procedure, under local anaesthesia. You will be awake, but you will be comfortable and feel little or no pain.

Typically you will be asked to arrive at least an hour prior to your procedure, and you will be allowed to leave after a period of observation following your procedure. The entire procedure – from entering the operating room to returning home – usually takes only a few hours.

To remove your cataract, Dr English will use a technique called Phacoemulsification – or phaco for short. He will make a tiny 3mm incision and insert a small ultrasonic phaco probe. The probe will break apart the clouded lens and suction it out.

Next a soft, flexible, folded IOL will be inserted through the same tiny incision, into the lens capsule of your eye. Once the IOL is inside your eye, Dr English will allow it to unfold in the proper position. Because this procedure is performed through an incision that is very small, your eye will be able to heal rapidly with little or no discomfort.

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER YOUR PROCEDURE

Normally you’ll be able to go home on the day of your surgery, but you should arrange for transport since you won’t be able to drive. Prior to your discharge from the hospital, instructions for postoperative care will be reinforced with you. You’ll typically be asked to see Dr English the next day and also you will have an appointment a few weeks later.

GETTING BACK TO NORMAL

It’s normal to feel mild discomfort for a day or two after surgery. Avoid rubbing or pressing your eye. It is essential for you to use your eye drops as outlined in your pre-operative paperwork and that you carry on using them until instructed to stop by Dr English.

You can quickly return to many every day activities, but your vision may be blurred. The healing eye needs time to adjust so that it can focus properly with the other eye, especially if the other eye has a cataract. Ask Dr English when you can resume driving.

Most people need to wear glasses after cataract surgery. You can usually get a final prescription for glasses three to six weeks after surgery. If necessary, we can also fine-tune your visual outcome using our refractive laser.

Complications after cataract surgery are rare, and most can be treated. They include inflammation, infection, bleeding, swelling, retinal detachment and glaucoma. The risks are greater for people who have other eye diseases or serious medical problems. Please, contact this office if you experience any discomfort or changes in your vision.