What is a cataract?
A cataract simply refers to ‘opacity of the lens’ inside the eye. Looking through a cataract can be thought of as a little bit like looking through an old stained piece of glass – instead of a clear new sheet.
There are several different types of cataract with different rates of progression, If symptoms such as blurred vision start to affect your lifestyle, then cataracts can be treated very successfully with surgery.
Cataracts can be seen on the WAM and are really common and usually small as we get into our sixties, increasing in size and needing removal usually by the mid to late seventies.
What are the common symptoms of Cataracts?
For most people, the main complaint is some deterioration in the quality of vision. Most people usually feel they just need another sight test to get their glasses updated.
Sometimes, people can complain of a ‘shadow’ behind objects they are looking at.
Certain types of cataract can cause glare in bright light conditions.
Because cataracts normally develop very slowly, over many years, most people don’t notice the gradual deterioration in their vision until it starts to interfere with their daily activity or indeed, it is spotted by their optometrist.
How are Cataracts treated?
The most effective treatment for cataracts is an operation to remove the cataract, and replace the cloudy lens with a clear artificial lens implant.
The lens of each eye should be clear in order for your eyes to work properly. The clear lens allows light to reach the retina at the back of the eye, which enables you to see things. With a cataract, less light can reach the retina, so your vision is affected. A cataract can be present for a while before you notice you have one. If you have a cataract, it will continue to develop. When spectacles can no longer improve your vision, the only way to restore your vision is by having the cataract removed by surgery.
The Cataract operation
Cataract surgery is one of the most common and quickest surgeries performed today. Modern cataract surgery (called phacoemulsification) is usually performed under local anaesthetic as a day case procedure. During the surgery, a tiny incision is made into the eye and the lens removed with an ultra-sound probe. The capsule of the lens is left behind and this is used to house the new lens implant. The whole procedure takes between 15 and 20 minutes, and the visual recovery is very quick with most patients noticing improved vision within a matter of days.
Monofocal lenses are usually used to give good distance vision but beware if you are a low myope who usually takes their glasses off to read. You may prefer to stay shortsighted and this can be arranged through the NHS as well as privately.
Toric implants. These are always private and are great if you have lots of astigmatism as a good surgeon can remove a lot of it.
Multi focal implants such as Symphony are also private and act like our multi focal contact lenses. Don’t choose these if you hated MF contact lenses as they have the same problems and advantage.
How can we help?
We have installed a cutting edge new eye examination instrument – the WAM 800 (Wavefront Analyser Medica). This carries out a total examination of the front of your eye and, amongst other things, photographs your cataracts (if you have any).
The comprehensive eye examination we provide enables us to track any catarcts you have, and how they are developing, at each visit. We will then advise you on the most appropriate treatment as necessary.