A cataract means that the natural lens in the eye is becoming cloudy. This can make the vision blurred, cause glare sensitivity, make reading difficult, or make colours appear faded. Sometimes people who have previously worn glasses find they can read without glasses (“second sight”), but this may mean that cataracts are developing.
Cataracts occur more commonly as one gets older. Sometimes medications, injuries, radiation or other eye diseases can contribute. There may also be a family history of cataracts. Often a cataract occurs in both eyes at a similar time, but sometimes there can be a delay of some years between the 2 eyes.
During your examination, your pupils will be dilated and the eyes will be carefully examined. It is always important to ensure that there are no other diseases which are contributing to the difficulty with vision. If other conditions are found these may need treatment prior to cataract surgery.
In a cataract operation, the natural lens in the eye is removed and is replaced with an artificial lens. This sits inside the eye permanently and restores the focusing power. Generally it is done under local anaesthetic with some sedation. There is an anaesthetist present to ensure that the patient is comfortable, and for patient safety. Afterwards the patient can go home and is seen the following day by the doctor. At this visit, the pad is removed and drops are commenced. Drops will be continued for about a month.
The intraocular lenses come in many different powers, and measurements are taken of the various parts of the eye. These are used to calculate the desired power for each patient. These lenses may correct myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Sometimes it is necessary to arrange a custom-made lens if a patient has an unusual eye. Patients have different expectations and requests regarding the final result and this will be discussed with you prior to the surgery. Our priority is for the patient to make an informed decision.
Generally the outcome of cataract surgery is very good, but as with all surgery complications can occur. These include inflammation, infection, dislocated lens, pressure rises and this will be discussed with you prior to the surgery.