What is a cataract?
A cataract refers to the condition which occurs when the lens inside the eye clouds over, leading to a blurred and decreased field of vision.
In the early stages many people can tolerate the symptoms caused by cataracts but as the cataract advances most patients would benefit from surgery. At Exeter Eye our surgeons have many years of experience in assessing cataracts and giving individualised advice on when the time is right to consider surgery.
If a cataract grows large enough to impair your vision and affect your daily activities cataract removal is recommended. Cataract removal is a common procedure and is safely performed millions of times each year. During the procedure the cataract surgeon removes the clouded lens that has affected your vision and replaces it with a clear, artificial, intraocular lens. As a result most patients can achieve a noticeable improvement in their vision.
Cataract surgery used to require a fairly large incision in the eye and the use of sutures to close that incision. Today, technological advances allow surgeons to work through an incision much smaller than in the past, usually requiring no sutures at all. Small incision cataract surgery is made possible by using high frequency sound waves known as ultrasound or phacoemulsification.
The sound waves break a cataract up into tiny fragments, that can then be removed through the small incision. The other advance that makes small incision cataract surgery possible, is the foldable intraocular lens implant. These implants are made of soft materials, which can be folded like a taco, or rolled-up with a special instrument, allowing them to fit through very small incisions.
Once inside the eye, these lenses unfold and return to their original shape. Small incision cataract surgery is less invasive, allows patients to resume normal activities soon after surgery, and provides the fastest recovery of vision.
In their initial stages cataracts can be treated with stronger prescription glasses and an adjustment in the brightness of lights. However, these are only temporary measures as the condition will gradually get worse. Permanent treatment will eventually be required.
Surgery is the only effective treatment as the lens in the eye will need to be removed and replaced. If your loss of vision begins to affect daily activities, this will likely be the recommendation of your optician or ophthalmologist.
Cataracts do not grow back, but in some cases, the clear, thin tissue that holds the intraocular lens in place can turn cloudy, months or even years after cataract surgery, causing vision to blur again. If this happens your doctor can easily and painlessly correct the issue by using a laser to create a new opening in the lens capsule. This creates a clear visual pathway which should allow your sight to return to its previous level of clarity.
Fortunately, cataract surgery is relatively quick, straightforward and painless. At Exeter Eye we offer state-of-the art laser surgery for cataracts with the Femtosecond Laser. This provides a blade-free, highly accurate procedure to patients for the extraction of the clouded lens.
Cataract surgery is performed under local anaesthetic by our highly experienced ophthalmic surgeons and only takes a few minutes. Your surgeon will use state-of-the-art ultrasound technology to safely remove the cataract from your eye. They will then carefully replace it with a clear artificial lens. The operation is completely painless, and will most likely be over before you know it.
And thanks to the advanced cataract surgery techniques used by Exeter Eye, we may even be able to correct other vision problems at the same time.
When your cataract is removed it is replaced by a plastic intraocular lens (IOL). If you suffer from long-sightedness, short-sightedness or astigmatism we may be able to help correct your focusing error during your cataract surgery.
Just as there are different types of glasses, there are also different types of intraocular lens (IOL) that can be fitted during your cataract operation. It may even be possible to improve your eyesight to such an extent that you no longer have to rely on glasses at all.
Lenses used in a cataract operation can be:
- Single focus intraocular lenses – to correct long or short-sightedness
- Dual focus intraocular lenses – to correct both long and short-sightedness
- Toric intraocular lenses – to correct astigmatism
Your ophthalmic surgeon will discuss all the options with you before your cataract surgery and use the latest diagnostic technology to ensure the lens we select for you meets your individual needs.
After your cataract surgery, you will be able to go home almost straight away.
You should see an improvement in your vision within the first few days and will be able to resume normal activities after a couple of days. You will be given eye drops to use for about six weeks to help your eyes heal.
Cataract Post Operative Care
Your surgeon will only carry out cataract surgery on one eye at a time. Should you need cataract surgery for both eyes, you can have your second cataract operation after two to four weeks.
Make an appointment today
Exeter Eye is a specialist ophthalmic eye clinic treating all eye conditions and offering the very best in patient care and comfort. We always ensure we fully understand your condition and lifestyle before identifying your treatment options and then help you choose the best one for you.