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 15 minutes. The surgeon will break down the cataract 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 incision. It will be held in place by the original capsule.
You are likely to be able to leave hospital an hour after the procedure. You will be given eye drops and should not touch or rub the eye excessively for a few weeks following your surgery. 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. There are some limitations on your activities for the first few weeks. Heavy lifting and stooping must be avoided for example, however after this period you can recommence normal physical activity.
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 to reassess your glasses prescription. The procedure will not correct other problems with your vision.
Cataract removal is generally considered to be one of the safest and most highly successful operations in existence. However, some patients may have co-existing conditions that may alter the risk of surgery. Overall, on average 1% of patients may lose vision from cataract surgery.
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.
Your surgeon will take the time to explain the risks to you. If you have any specific risk, these will form part of your preoperative consultation and will be carefully explained to you.
The VERION Image Guided System by Alcon is designed to add greater accuracy and efficiency during cataract surgery. The VERION System is comprised of three main components. The first takes key measurements of the eye. The second enables the surgeon to utilise those measurements to determine an optimised surgical plan, including what power replacement lens to implant. The third features a digital overlay that enables the surgeon to determine accurate replacement lens alignment based on the unique anatomy of the patient's eye. All of these components come together to help the surgeon consistently achieve their refractive targets.
Only a handful of hospitals in the UK currently use state-of-the-art VERION technology. It is particularly useful in patients with co-existing astigmatism. Astigmatism is a common eye condition that occurs when the cornea isn't a perfectly curved shape. Instead of having a regular, 'football-shaped' curve, the cornea is shaped more like a rugby ball and results in blurred vision without glasses.
Astigmatism can be corrected during catarct surgery with the aim of minimising the need for glasses after the operaton. At St Joseph's we use VERION to place a special toric lens into the eye with a precision and accuracy that was previously impossible.
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