What is a cataract?

A cataract is clouding of the natural lens in the eye. It can be caused by a variety of reasons but most commonly cataracts form as a result of advancing age.

Normal clear lens

Cloudy lens (cataract)

How do I know if I have cataract?

Cataracts often form very slowly and you may not be aware of any symptoms. If you have difficulty with your vision you should visit your optician or your doctor to examine your eyes. Presence of cataracts can be diagnosed with a simple eye test.

I have been told I have cataract. Do I need to have cataract surgery?

It is not always necessary to have an operation for cataract.  Surgery is only required if the presence of cataract is causing problem with your vision and daily activities.  This will be discussed with you during your visit to your eye specialist.

How is a cataract removed?

There have been great advances in cataract surgery in the recent years. Modern cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens from the eye through a very small cut (between 2-3 mm or one tenth of an inch) made at the edge of the clear window of the eye (the cornea). This small incision is made in such a way that it will heal without a suture. A new lens is placed in the eye through the same incision.

The operation is usually performed under local anaesthetics  and there is no need to stay in hospital following the surgery.

Schematic presentation of cataract surgery

Intraocular lens implanted in place of removed cataract

How is local anaesthetic given and is there an alternative?

The choice of local anaesthetics very much depends on the patient and surgeon’s preference.  Most surgery can be performed with anaesthetic eye drops.  Some patients require additional anaesthetics, which can be given around the eye without any sharp needles. Occasionally sedation or general anaesthetics is used for patients who are anxious. This will be discussed at the time of seeing your eye surgeon.

Will my prescription glasses change after cataract surgery?

Yes. Prior to cataract surgery accurate measurements are made to calculate the power of lens required to implant into the eye.  Your personal visual requirements and power of glasses will be discussed to choose the most appropriate lens power for you.

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