What is a Cataract ?
A cataract is clouding of the natural lens in your eye .
What is the lens and where is it located in the eye ?
The lens is situated inside the eyeball behind the Iris, which is the coloured part of your eye.
What does the lens normally do ?
Imagine the eye is like a camera. The back of the eye is called the retina and is akin tophotographic film. In order to get the light onto the ‘film’ we need to focus the light first. This is the job of the lens. You can imagine that if the lens is clear (transparent), it can focus light well onto the back of the eye. However, if it is cloudy, the light scatters and is not sharply focused onto the retina.
Why do you get cataract ?
You can develop a cataract due to many reasons, but ageing is by far the most common cause.
What are the symptoms of a cataract ?
The common symptoms of cataract are gradual blurring or foggy vision. In some it may cause difficulty to read, intolerance to light (glare) or double vision. Some may feel that their glasses are dirty and need cleaning or colours are not as bright and looks dull.
Please be aware that these symptoms can be produced by other eye conditions as well and may not be specific for cataract.
How can I confirm if I have a cataract ?
Cataract can be confirmed after a dilated examination of the eye performed by a trained health care professional. This involves shining a light into the eye and looking at it with a microscope. The optometrist (optician) can detect cataracts during a regular eye check.
How is a cataract treated ?
Cataracts cannot be treated using tablets,pills or eye drops. The only way to treat the cataract is by an operation.
What does the operation involve?
The operation involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial clear plastic lens. The operation is straightforward and takes roughly 15-20 minutes. It is painless as you will be given an anaesthetic around the eye so that you do not feel the operation, however, you will be awake. You will be able to go home the same day and will not need to stay overnight in the hospital.
What happens afterwards?
You will need eye drops to be taken for 4 weeks. This is to prevent infection and help healing of the eye.
Will I need glasses?
It depends on the type of lens that is put in the eye during the operation. Most of the time the new lens that is put in is made to focus light for when you are looking into the distance. However, you will require glasses for near work like reading a book or working with computers. This is called a ‘unifocal’ lens.
Is it possible not to need glasses at all afterwards?
Yes – if you are suitable a special type of lens can be put in the eye which can do the job of focusing light at a distance as well as near. This is called a ‘multifocal’ lens. Not all patients are suitable for this and you should discuss this with your doctor.
How long does the new lens last?
Once the new lens is put in the eye it will last a lifetime. Under very rare circumstances, the new lens can become cloudy which may need replacing.