Cataract surgery explained
Cataract surgery is a procedure that involves removing and replacing the lens inside the eye with an artificial lens. Cataract surgery is one of the most common and successful eye treatments carried out to improve vision.
Hearing the word “cataract” from your eye doctor may initially seem scary and intimidating, but modern surgical techniques have demonstrated high success rates that often improve vision so significantly that some people are less reliant on glasses or corrective lenses than before.
Most commonly occurring in patients aged over 50, cataracts can seriously impact your vision and affect your quality of life. If diagnosed with cataracts, surgery is the only solution to improve your sight. The poor vision caused by this condition cannot be corrected or improved with the use of glasses, lenses or laser eye surgery.
At Mhc, we do not provide health advices on cataracts or any other medical or healthcare related treatment or condition. We can however help you find, contact and compare services provided by experts in the field, who can give independent advice to those who need it.
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts are cloudy patches that develop on the lens of the eye. Young people generally have good vision because the lenses of their eyes are clear like glass, but as you get older a cloudy, frosty, patch may develop which can significant affect your sight.
Why have cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is a common ophthalmology treatment carried out on older adults.
Here are some of the reasons why people may choose to have cataract surgery:
- Improved vision
- Be more independent
- Improved self-confidence
- Better mental health
- Less falls
- A greater enjoyment of social activities and passions and hobbies
When to consider cataract surgery
The right time to have treatment depends on when you feel ready, but to realistically consider cataract surgery you should be noticing some of the typical signs of cataract development which include:
- Blurred vision
- Poor night time vision
- Colours seem less sharp
- Seeing halos and star-bursts when looking at bright lights
If your experiencing any of these symptoms reach out to an ophthalmologist for an assessment to find out if you have cataracts and if you would be a suitable candidate for cataract surgery.
Is there an alternative to cataract surgery?
Today the only way to treat cataracts is to have them removed surgically, however a new study carried out by Dr. Kang Zhang, chief of ophthalmic genetics with the Shiley Eye Institute at the University of California has discovered that an organic compound called lanosterol can improve vision by dissolving the clumped proteins that form cataracts.
The compound applied to the eye using drops appeared to clear vision after six weeks of treatment. Having said that, non-surgical cataract removal treatment is still at the trail and development stage so isn’t available to patients at the moment.
How much does cataract surgery cost?
The cost of cataract surgery varies and can depend on many factors including where you choose to have the procedure and the extent of the surgery.
There may be other factors which could impact the cost cataract surgery, but looking at the available online costing resources, surgery in the UK ranges from £1,500 to £5,500 with a median average of cost of £2,500.
How to choose where to go for a cataract surgery?
Typically, when looking for a hospital or clinic in the UK you should check to see if they’re registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC are the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England, responsible for monitoring and regulating hospital and care services. There you will be able to access reports and ratings to help you make the best choice
At Mhc, we have developed a user-friendly healthcare directory portal for people looking for treatments, like cataract surgery, to easily search for, find and contact hospitals and clinics in the UK. To make things even easier for patients and visitors, we take extra care to ensure that all clinics and hospitals we work with are registered with the CQC or similar regulators.
In addition to finding a place to have cataract surgery, you should also research and assess the doctor that will carry out the surgery. All doctors must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). There you can access the surgeon’s work history.
Although Mhc can help you find a clinic, hospital or doctor, we urge you to thoroughly assess and research the care providers you choose before moving forward.
What does cataract surgery involve?
Cataract surgery involves removing and replacing lenses that have become cloudy with a clear artificial lens to help restore clear vision.
The procedure is usually carried out on an outpatient basis which means there’s no need to stay at the hospital or clinic overnight.
Most cataract procedures involve the breaking down of the affected lenses using an ultrasound device. The small pieces of broken lens are then removed to make room for the new artificial lens.
Modern surgical techniques mean, this procedure typically requires a small incision. This ensures recovery time is much quicker and risk of cataract surgery complications like retinal detachment are much lower.
Once the frosty lens is completely removed the surgeon can insert the new clear lens into the same position where the natural lens used to be. The cataract removal procedure is then completed by closing the incision, with or without stitches, as necessary. A protective cover is placed over the eye to guard it during the recover process.
Before cataract surgery
Before having cataract surgery you’ll need to have an eye examination to assess the overall health and condition of your eye. This eye examination, carried out by optometrist and/or ophthalmologist, will identify if there are any reasons why the surgery can’t be carried out and identify any risk factors.
The examination will check for near-sightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism. Additional measurements will be taken to determine the curvature of your cornea and the length of your eye.
Once all the information is gathered a decision can be made on the best course of action to take to achieve the desired outcome.
After cataract surgery and recovery
A typical cataract surgery will take around 15 minutes to complete, but you can expect to be at the hospital or clinic for considerably longer, for pre-operation prep and post-surgery assessment.
After surgery you will not be allowed to drive home so travel arrangement will need to be made to get you back home. You should not consider driving until your doctor has given you the all clear to do so.
To help with the recovery process you can expect to:
- Use eye drops for a few weeks after your procedure
- Wear protective eye shield while you sleep for a week or so
- Wear protective sunglasses to shield from sunlight
Risks and side effects of cataract surgery
Once your eyes start to heal from the surgery you may notice redness and blurry vision for the first few days and weeks after the procedure.
To minimise any risk, your doctor may advise you to avoid:
- Heavy lifting
- Any activity or exercise that may cause stress or tension in the eye
- Water in the eye, as this can cause infection
- Exposure to dust or dirt which may also cause infection
If you feel you have encountered a serious problem or the outcome is not what you were promised, and the results are not what you expected, reach out to your surgeon.
Contact the hospital that performed the procedure and explain your situation, especially if you’re experiencing discomfort or any unusual symptoms that were not explained to you during your consultation.
If you suspect the procedure was not carried out in the correct manor and you’re not satisfied with result or the level of care you received you should contact the CQC.
Things to consider before your procedure
Cataract surgery may be a necessary procedure to improve your quality of life. Nonetheless before having treatment it’s important to be prepared and set some realistic expectations about the potential outcome.
Here are some things you should think about:
- If you have children, do you need childcare?
- Do you have adequate space to recover?
- How long is the recovery time for your treatment?
- How long do you need to take off work?
- When will you start to see the results you expect?
- When will you fully recover and resume your usual activity?
- Are the results of the surgery permanent?
Start your search
You may or may not be ready to have cataract surgery, but it’s never too soon to reach out to a clinic or hospital to start a conversation. A major part of your research into the procedure you’re looking for should include direct communication and a consultation with an expert. The more information you can gather about the procedure and your surgeon the better decision you’re likely to make.