Your surgeon will discuss how to prepare for your operation. He or she will also discuss your options for the type of artificial lens replacement you will have fitted.
What are the alternatives?
So far, no medication or diet has been found to slow down the growth of cataracts, and there is no medication that can clear a clouded lens.
Wearing glasses may improve vision for people with the early stages of cataract development, but your cataract will probably get worse over time so this will provide only a temporary solution.
Left untreated, the lens will eventually become so clouded that it is impossible to see any detail at all, although some light will always be distinguishable.
Deciding to have a cataract removed
Cataract surgery is a commonly performed and generally safe surgical procedure. However, in order to make a well-informed decision and give your consent, you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and the risk of complications.
Side-effects are the unwanted but mostly temporary effects of a successful procedure. For cataract surgery, side-effects include:
What should I expect in hospital?
Cataracts typically occur in both eyes, but they are usually treated one at a time, this allows time for the first eye to heal before the second eye surgery takes place. There is usually an interval of several weeks or months between each operation.
Your exact length of stay in hospital will depend on the type of surgery you are having.
Phacoemulsification is most often performed as a day-case, without the need for an overnight stay in hospital.
Before surgery you will talk to your surgeon about the operation and you will be asked to sign a consent form. This confirms that you understand the risks, benefits and possible alternatives to the procedure and have given your permission for it to go ahead. This is a good time to ask any unanswered questions about the operation.
Your surgeon will examine your eye. Drops will be placed in your eye to dilate (widen) your pupil. This makes it easier for your surgeon to see the lens inside your eye. It will not be possible to see out of your eye as it is being treated, but you may be aware of light and movement.
What happens before cataract surgery
Before surgery, your eye doctor measures the size and shape of your eye to determine the proper power of the lens implant by using modern computer program “IOL master”. The measurements are made with a painless ultrasound test.
Cataract surgery is one of the safest, most effective types of surgery. It's also one of the most successful. After you and your eye doctor have decided that you will have cataract surgery, your doctor will measure your eye to determine the proper power of the IOL.
A non-contact optical device that measures the distance from the corneal vertex to the retinal pigment epithelium by partial coherence interferometry, the IOL Master is consistently accurate to within ±0.02 mm or better. The IOL Master is the first such device to be widely used in clinical ophthalmology. Calibrated against the ultra-high resolution 40-MHz Grieshaber Biometric System, an internal algorithm approximates the distance to the vitreoretinal interface, for the equivalent of an immersion A-scan ultrasonic axial length.
Considering the fact that axial length measurements by A-scan ultrasonography (using a standard 10-MHz transducer) have a typical resolution of 0.10 mm to 0.12 mm, axial length measurements by the IOL Master represent a fivefold increase in accuracy.
The IOL Master allows fast, accurate measurements of eye length and surface curvature, necessary for cataract surgery. The IOL Master is more efficient because it allows measurements to be taken with complete confidence in the accuracy of the results. Also, because the IOL Master is non-contact (nothing touches the eye itself), there is no need for anesthesia and there is no potential for spread of contamination from the IOLMaster.
When is the best time for cataract surgery?
The decision to have cataract surgery is one that you and your eye doctor should make together. You'll probably have plenty of time to consider and discuss your options. In most cases, waiting to have surgery won't harm your eye. If your vision is still quite good, you may not need cataract surgery for many years, if ever. So the time to consider treatment is when your vision has become noticeably worse and this is interfering with your everyday activities such as work and hobbies such as to drive safely, to watch television or read without problems and to do your daily life activities without vision problems to affect your level of independence.
In younger people or people with diabetes, however, cataracts may progress rapidly, making the need for surgery more immediate.
Sometimes a cataract should be removed even if it doesn't cause major problems with vision — for example, if it's interfering with the treatment of another eye problem, such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy or retinal detachment. It is the only way to restore or maintain your vision.
For some people, this loss in vision is mild enough to get along fine with glasses or contact lenses as for an older person who isn't very active may have less need for sharp vision than does a younger person who needs to drive a car and earn a living.
- an itchy or sticky eye and blurry vision for a few days after the operation
- aching of the eye, which generally settles down within a few days
- bruising of the eyelid or eye, which will heal normally