Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed operations in the UK. The treatment is used to treat age-related cataracts where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, stopping some of the light reaching the retina and causing your vision to become increasingly blurry or misty.
When your vision affects your quality of life and prevents you doing things you’d like to do, surgery to remove the cataract may be recommended.
The operation is usually carried out as day surgery so you’ll be able to return home on the day of the operation, although you won’t be able to drive yourself.
The operation takes around 30 minutes and will be carried out under a local anaesthetic, so you’ll be awake but you won’t be able to feel any pain. After the local anaesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon makes tiny cuts on the surface of your eye in order to remove the cloudy lens. The lens will usually be broken up using ultrasound waves, before it’s removed. The capsule the lens sat in is left behind; the new artificial lens will be placed in this capsule, where it will remain permanently.
After surgery, your eye is usually left without stitches, allowing it to heal naturally.
You may have some pain or discomfort after the operation which we’ll help you manage with painkillers. It may take several hours before you can feel your eye again properly, and it will probably be covered with a protective bandage.
We’ll discuss your aftercare and any follow-up appointments with you before you leave hospital. You may have eye-drops to prevent infection and to help control swelling in the eye.
As with any surgical procedure there is some risk of infection of the wound. Specific risks associated with cataract surgery include:
- posterior capsule opacification (PCO), which causes your vision to become cloudy again - this can be corrected with laser eye surgery
- damage to the capsule that holds the new lens in place
- some or all of the cataract falling into the back of the eye
- a detached retina
- cystoid macular oedema (when fluid gathers in small spaces on the retina)
There are no alternative treatments - replacing your cloudy lens with a new clear lens is the only way to restore your vision.
John Hobbins was fed up with needing his glasses adjusted and frequently replaced, so he decided to have cataract surgery at Benenden Hospital.