What is a cataract?
A cataract causes progressive clouding of your naturally clear lens, which eventually impacts your vision. Cataract surgery is a procedure to remove the lens of your eye and, in most cases, replace it with an artificial lens. It is the most commonly performed eye operation, is very safe and has a big impact on the quality of your life. The surgery is done by an eye surgeon as a day procedure, which means you don’t have to stay in the hospital after the operation.
Who should undergo cataract surgery?
People with cataracts may suffer from blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light, difficulty in reading or driving and frequent change in glasses prescription. If your failing sight is interfering with your work or daily routine, surgery is an option for you. It is also recommended when a cataract interferes with the monitoring or treatment of another eye problem, such as diabetic retinopathy and age related macular degeneration.
A cataract is a manifestation of the normal ageing process and you may not need surgery for many years if your vision is good enough to keep you safe and maintain your lifestyle.
When considering cataract surgery, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it interfere with your job?
- Does it affect your level of independence e.g. driving, cooking, shopping, climbing stairs, taking medication etc?
- Does it affect your hobbies e.g. reading or watching television?
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is a safe procedure. Complications are uncommon, and most can be treated successfully.
- Dislocation of cataract or artificial lens to the back of the eye.
- Retinal detachment
- Secondary cataract
- Need of further operation
- Loss of vision
Your risk of complications is greater if you have another eye disease or a serious medical condition. Occasionally, cataract surgery fails to improve vision because of underlying eye damage from other conditions. Your prognosis will be discussed after an initial eye examination for realistic expectations of the outcome of the operation.
What are the types of intraocular lenses (IOL) available?
A variety of IOLs with different features are available. Your surgeon will discuss the benefits and risks of the different types of IOLs to determine what might work best for you and your lifestyle.
Some of the types of lenses available include : Multifocal IOL & Monofocal IOL
- Monofocal. This type of lens has a single focus strength for distance vision. Reading will generally require the use of reading glasses.
- Multifocal: These lenses are similar to glasses with progressive lenses. Different areas of the lens have different focusing strengths, allowing for near, medium and far vision.
- Toric IOLs : If you have a significant astigmatism, a toric lens can help correct your vision.
What to expect from the surgery
Surgical method and anaesthesia:
The operation is done under local anaesthesia - topical numbing drops or local infiltration of the anaesthetic fluid around the eyeball using a blunt cannula.. This is a very trusted and effective method of pain control during cataract surgery. Your surgeon can also offer general anaesthesia if there is clinical indication e.g. head tremors, dementia, fear of closed spaces etc.
Phacoemulsification is the technique used for the operation. A thin ultrasound probe is introduced through a tiny cut in the front of the eye. Ultrasound waves are used to break up the cataract and the small fragments are sucked out of the eye. The capsule of the natural lens is left intact to serve as a place for the artificial lens to rest. The tiny cut at the front of the eye rarely needs stitches.
After the surgery
Normally, you can go home on the same day as your surgery. You will need to arrange for a ride home as you won't be able to drive. Also arrange for help around the house, if necessary, because your doctor may limit activities, such as bending and lifting, for about a week after your surgery.
You will usually have an eye patch or protective shield on the day of surgery. Your doctor may also recommend wearing the eye patch for a few days after your surgery and the protective shield when you sleep during the recovery period. Your doctor may prescribe eye drops or other medication to prevent infection, reduce inflammation and control eye pressure.
After cataract surgery, expect your vision to begin improving within a few days. Your vision may be blurry at first and you will feel itching and mild discomfort for a couple of days after surgery. Avoid rubbing your eye.
Please get in touch with your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Vision getting worse instead of getting better
- Eyelid swelling
- Persistent pain
- Increased eye redness and yellow discharge
- New flashes and floaters
You might need glasses after cataract surgery depending upon the type of intraocular lens implant used. It takes 6 to 8 weeks for the eye to heal enough for you to get a final prescription for your glasses.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, the second surgery is scheduled after the first eye has healed.
Prices for cataract surgery:
Fixed Price Self pay options at B.M.I. Woodlands.
Self pay cataract consultation; £200 (includes biometry).
Phacoemulsification Cataract Surgery
- Standard Monofocal Intraocular Lenses: £2073 per eye.
- Toric (astigmatism correcting) Monofocal Intraocular Lenses: £2640 per eye.
- Multifocal Intraocular Lenses (astigmatism and non astigmatism correcting): £3312 per eye.
If you have private medical insurance, your insurance company should cover the cost of the operation and a standard lens. Toric and multifocal lenses usually have to be self funded at an additional cost. We will be able to give you an individual quote for a premium lens.