Cataracts are a condition in which the proteins in the normally clear lens, inside the front part of the eye, begin to break down and become cloudy. The cataract blocks light from passing through the cloudy lens, reducing the brightness and clarity of your vision.
Looking through a cataract is like looking through frosted rather than clear glass; the whitened opacity of a cataract doesn’t allow a clear image being made on the retina inside the eye.
When will I notice I have cataract symptoms?
Cataracts can develop over years and at first you may not notice any symptoms. They usually develop in both eyes, but at different rates. It is common to have one eye that is worse than the other. Your vision can become misty, blurred or you may experience small patches where it is fogged, even when wearing your glasses.
Most people over the age of 65 have some signs of lens opacity and discover they have a cataract because they have difficulty doing their normal day-to-day activities. Difficulty seeing in low or very bright light, difficulty driving as headlights appear to have a halo around them, the glare from strong lights is uncomfortable or dazzling, colours appear washed out or have more of a brown or yellow hue, or you may experience double vision.
Eventually your glasses will no longer correct your vision and if untreated, cataracts will lead to blindness. Laser refractive surgery, such as LASIK, is not effective for cataracts.
Most cataracts occur due to ageing. There are three main types of age-related cataracts: nuclear sclerotic, cortical, and posterior subcapsular.
Other main types of cataracts are congenital cataracts, secondary cataracts, traumatic cataracts, and radiation cataracts.
The happiest surgery you’ll ever have
If a cataract is affecting your day-to-day enjoyment then it is time to have an assessment to improve your vision. Fortunately, cataracts are treatable. The surgery is a routine day case operation (without needing an overnight stay in hospital) where the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial acrylic lens. The actual surgery takes around 10-15 minutes to complete and is done under a local anaesthetic (you are awake but your eye is numbed). The operation uses a high-frequency ultrasound that breaks up the misty lens into small pieces and these fragments are gently removed from the eye with a suction. This surgical approach is called phacoemulsification. Your surgeon then inserts a clear specially designed implant, called an intraocular lens (IOL) in the place where your natural lens once was. The choice of available lens to implant can improve your vision to better than what you had before your cataract, correcting short sightedness, astigmatism or mono vision to correct presbyopia (eliminating the need for reading glasses). No stitches are typically used, and normal daily activities can be resumed very soon after surgery.
Many people tell us “I wish I’d done it sooner” “It’s given me my life back”.
The Bowen Eye Clinic experience
Unlike many other clinics, Bowen Eye Clinic cataract patients have full access to their surgeon. You will meet your surgeon, Dr Reece Hall, at your first assessment appointment where your eyes will be given a full health examination to confirm that your loss of sight is due to a cataract and not because of other common eye problems such as diabetes, glaucoma, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Dr Reece Hall will discuss your lifestyle and hobbies and develop a customised plan with you for your new vision and talk through any concerns you may have. Our staff will guide you through the administration process with your insurance company and hospital stay. The whole experience is highly personalised and designed to ensure you are comfortable, well informed and achieve the best visual outcome possible.
What can I expect?
After cataract surgery, your vision is restored with your ideal intra-ocular lens implant and you will be surprised at your regained independence and freedom. The procedure is relatively pain free, and unlike contact lenses which sit on the surface of your eye, the synthetic lens is placed inside your eye so you won’t feel a thing. Normally the vision is off focus immediately after surgery and the next day vision is often good. Dr Reece Hall will check you at your post-operative appointment and advise on when you can drive and return to work (usually after a few days).
Life changing freedom!
Your eyes are your body’s most highly developed sense, constantly absorbing information about the world around you. Restoring your vision gives you back the freedom to embrace life, reconnects you with others and allows you to do the things you want to do.
If you’d like to know more about cataract surgery, book an appointment with Dr Reece Hall at Bowen Eye Clinic, firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 0800 69 2020