This page will provide you with information about cataract surgery. For further details, you should speak to your consultant. A cataract is a common problem caused by the natural lens in your eye developing cloudy patches. They are most frequently an age-related problem that has worsened over time. Cataracts can change the focus of your eye, leading to blurred or cloudy vision.
In many cases, the cataract can be easily be rectified with a surgical procedure, known as phacoemulsification, that will improve your vision.
Can cataracts be treated without surgery?
While new prescription glasses can help improve your vision to some extent, once the cataract becomes too advanced, surgery will be required if you wish to restore your vision.
What does the operation involve?
Cataract surgery involves extracting the cataract from your eye and implanting an artificial lens in its place. After making an incision in your cornea (the transparent layer at the front of your eye) your surgeon will use ultrasound to break the cataract down into small pieces and then remove them. A small artificial lens will then be placed behind the iris into the cornea, which held the natural lens in place. The operation is usually performed under a local anaesthetic and takes about 20 minutes to complete.
What complications could I experience?
General complications include pain, bleeding and the possibility of infection. More specific complications are rare but could be a tear in the cornea which holds the lens in place (which will require tiny stitches to rectify), heavy bleeding inside your eye, clouding of the corneal bag, cornea abrasion or swelling of the retina (known as cystoid macular oedema). You may also experience inflammation in your other eye. Another rare complication includes retinal detachment, where the nerve cells inside the back of the eye become separated from the inner wall of the eye.
How long will it take for me to recover?
In most cases, you should be able to return home a few hours after the surgery. After phacoemulsification surgery, it is likely the prescription of your glasses will change. A visit to your optician for an eye test three to six weeks after the operation will confirm whether you need new glasses. Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. However, you should always ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice before undertaking any exercise. Most people make a good recovery from the surgery and will benefit from improved vision.
References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.
The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.