A cataract is a cloudy appearance in the lens at the front of the eye that can cause visual impairment. Cataracts are usually a result of ageing. Cataract removal is a surgical procedure to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial, foldable lens implant to improve vision.
There are a number of artificial lenses available, and can correct both near, and far, sightedness. Your consultant will be able to advise the lens that is most suitable for you, but some other eye conditions including astigmatism may limit the choices.
Cataract removal surgery is performed under local anaesthetic and takes around 30 minutes. The surgeon will break down the affected lens with ultrasound waves, then remove it from its capsule in the eye through a small incision. A new lens will then be implanted through the same cut. It will be held in place by the original capsule.
You are likely to be able to leave hospital a few hours after the procedure. You will be given eye drops and should not touch or rub the eye excessively for a day or so. Your vision will be blurry for a few hours post-surgery and you will have some sensitivity to light. You will not be able to drive until the lens has settled; this usually takes around a day.
Avoid applying eye make-up until advised by your surgeon - this is usually a few days after surgery.
You will need to have an eye test after a month or six weeks to reassess your glasses prescription. The procedure will not correct other problems with your vision.
Cataract removal is generally a very safe operation. Nonetheless, all surgery and anaesthetic have some risk associated. Risks to all surgeries include infection, excessive bleeding, adverse reaction to anaesthetic or blood clotting.
Cataract removal can also result in detachment of the retina, damage to the capsule which holds the lens, or reactive swelling in the other eye.
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