In your eye you have a lens behind the coloured part of your eye (iris). The lens focuses light so you can see objects at different distances.
The lens is a clear colour when you are young, but becomes cloudier and more yellow as you get older. This clouding of the lens is called a cataract. Cataracts can affect one, or both eyes.
Over time, the cataract can:
You might find that you are needing to change your glasses prescription more than usual.
Sometimes cataracts develop very slowly. Your optician that notices them during a routine eye test.
Cataract surgery replaces your cloudy lens with an artificial lens. This procedure takes about 30 minutes and is done under local anaesthetic.
Once the cataract is removed you should be able to see more clearly. How well you see colour may also improve.
Everyone develops a degree of cataract as they get older. However, it can also happen at a younger age. This might be because of:
Some people are born with cataracts (congenital cataracts).
A cataract itself is not harmful to your eye, so you should only have surgery when you feel the cataract is starting to affect your vision. In the early stages of a cataract, often a change in glasses prescription is enough.
With modern surgical techniques, we can perform surgery at any stage when the cataract is affecting your daily life.
The decision to have cataract surgery depends on how your vision is affected, and if the benefits outweigh the small risks associated with having surgery.
If you are having problems reading, using a computer or driving, you might want to consider surgery. If you are not concerned about your vision, then you might want to wait and have regular eye tests.
Cataract surgery is done as day surgery and usually takes about half an hour. It's done under local anaesthetic, so you are awake but your eye will not feel any pain.
We remove the cataract and replace your lens with an artificial lens. This is made of plastic and stays in your eye forever, only rarely needing replacement.
We take measurements before the operation to help us decide which lens strength is right for you. Usually, we aim to make you glasses-free for distance. This means you only need glasses for reading. However, there is a chance you will need glasses for both distance vision and reading after surgery, particularly if you have a history of astigmatism or an irregularly shaped eye.
If you have had previous laser refractive surgery, please remember to tell the doctor as it can affect the calculations for the lens replacement after cataract surgery.