A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window.
Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car (especially at night) or see the expression on a friend’s face. It may cause glare or haloes around lights.
Most cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb your eyesight early on and may just cause frequent changes in the strength of your spectacles. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision.
The treatment is cataract surgery which is generally a safe, effective procedure
Cataract surgery is considered when your cataracts begin to affect your quality of life or interfere with your ability to perform normal daily activities, such as reading or driving at night, whether it be leisure or work-related activities.
Alternatively it may become necessary to perform cataract surgery if your best corrected vision is worse than legally required as a driver.
In some cases you may be advised to have cataract surgery to allow monitoring of a retinal disease e.g. diabetic retinopathy.
What happens during cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens. The artificial lens, called an intraocular lens, is positioned in the same place as your natural lens, and it remains a permanent part of your eye. For some people, other eye problems prohibit the use of an artificial lens. In these situations, once the cataract is removed, vision may be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Cataract surgery is generally done on an outpatient basis, which means you won’t need to stay overnight in a hospital after the surgery.
During cataract surgery, your eye doctor uses local anaesthesia to numb the area around your eye, but you usually stay awake during the procedure.
Cataract surgery is generally safe, but it carries a risk of infection and bleeding. Cataract surgery increases the risk of retinal detachment.
After the procedure, you’ll have some discomfort for a few days. You generally will be healed within eight weeks.
If you need cataract surgery in both eyes, your doctor will schedule surgery to remove the cataract in the second eye a week or two after the first surgery.