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Near the front of the eye, the lens focuses light on the retina at the back of the eye. Light passes through it to produce a sharp image on the retina of the eye.

When the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, light is unable to pass through it causing the vision to be blurred. This is known as cataract.


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What is a Cataract?

The lens of the human eye is similar to the lens of a camera. Located near the front of the eye, the lens focuses light on the retina at the back of the eye. Light passes through it to produce a sharp image on the retina. When the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, light is unable to pass through it and the vision is blurred. This condition is known as cataract.


How do they occur?

Cataracts are usually a natural part of aging. They can exist at birth, be caused by injury, or be caused by diseases like diabetes. Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, although not always at the same rate.


How do they affect you?

Cataracts often take a number of years to develop and may not cause problems in their early stages. Cataracts progress at varying rates from individual to individual. But as they develop they can reduce sight and interfere with lifestyle. You will notice a blurring of vision, with activities like driving and reading becoming more difficult. Sometimes your eyes make become more sensitive to light and glare.

How are cataracts treated?

Because a cataract is a clouding of – not a film over – your lens, surgery is the only way to remove cataract once it is formed.

The operation involves making a small 3 mm opening in the front surface of the eye, through which is put a small instrument that breaks the cataract up into smaller pieces so that it can be removed. This is called phacoemulsification. After that a small clear plastic lens (intraocular lens or IOL) is put into the eye to take the place of the cloudy lens.

The whole operation takes around half an hour. Surgery is done on only one eye at a time. That way you can use the other eye while the eye that is operated on heals.


Cataract Surgery


The operation can be done either under local or general anaesthetic. With local anaesthetic numbing medication is used around the eye so that the operation is painless. The majority of patients prefer this method. If however, you are apprehensive about being awake during the operation, or have a problem such as an uncontrollable cough or twitch, which would interfere with the operation, it is better for you to have a general anaesthetic. Your surgeon will discuss which is the preferred method for you.

The initial parts of the operation can be performed using laser cataract surgery. There is an additional charge with this procedure and health insurance companies do not cover it.


What happens after the operation?

After the operation you will have an eye pad on until the next morning when you come back for your follow up visit. You will be started on eye drops that will be used for one month. Usually you can resume your normal activities and hobbies the next day. It will take a few days to adjust to your new vision and you should not drive for the first day or so. You may need to get your glasses updated and this is usually done 3-4 weeks after the operation.

Following surgery it is most important that you contact your surgeon urgently if your eye becomes increasingly painful or your vision becomes blurry.


How successful is cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is very successful with a greater than 95% chance of greatly improved vision. As with any operation, however, there is always some risk of complications such as infection or bleeding but fortunately these occur very rarely.

What are your vision correction options?

At Eye Surgery Associates our aim is to optimise your vision by using special refractive cataract surgery techniques and premium intraocular lenses. The vision correction options include:Monofocal vision: This is the most common vision correction procedure and has been around for the longest time. It is associated with the least risk of unwanted side effects. Here intraocular lenses are used to provide the clearest vision either for distance or reading but not both. Most commonly patients choose to have their vision corrected for distance and then use glasses for reading.

  • Blended vision: Here one eye is corrected for distance vision (your dominant eye) and the other eye for near vision using monofocal intraocular lenses of different strengths. Both eyes are still used at the same time with your brain having the ability to blend the two images together. The main advantage of blended vision is that you will not need to wear glasses for most activities. You still may need to wears glasses occasionally such as when driving at night or reading fine print. You can use contact lens to trial blended vision to see if it right for you.

  • Multifocal intraocular lenses: These are intraocular lenses that are designed to enable you to see well for distance and near vision without glasses. About 4 out of 5 patients find they don’t need to wear glasses afterwards and those that do usually require them only for finer tasks. Not everyone is suitable for this procedure and your surgeon will be able to advise you about this. A small proportion of patients may notice glare and haloes around lights with these intraocular lenses, however, these symptoms usually settle over time. There is also an additional cost associated with multifocal intraocular lenses.

  • Corneal astigmatism: The front surface of the eye is normally round like a soccer ball but for some people it is shaped more like a rugby ball (called astigmatism). During cataract surgery this can be corrected to some degree by inserting a special lens called a Toric intraocular lens. Minor degrees of astigmatism do not need a special lens and will be corrected using corneal incision(s) at the time of cataract surgery. Although we use the latest technology to determine the most accurate intraocular lens strength to use sometimes small inaccuracies still arise. Glasses, contact lenses or laser eye surgery are options in this situation if needed.

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