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FAQ on cataract surgery

A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye

The lens is normally transparent and is located behind the iris, the coloured part of the eye and the pupil. The lens is responsible for focussing light on to the retina which is equivalent to the film in a camera. A cloudy lens or cataract will prevent a clear picture from being formed on the retina.

cross-section of the eye

What causes cataracts?

Cataracts most commonly form as part of the ageing process, although they may occur at all ages. In younger people, they may result from injuries, taking certain drugs, inflammations or from diseases such as diabetes.

What are the symptoms?

Some cataracts may not cause too many visual symptoms, but as they progress people usually complain of the gradual onset of various symptoms:

  • blurred vision and reading difficulties
  • glare and sensitivity to bright light
  • increased short sightedness
  • other visual disturbances such as double vision when looking out of the affected eye.

Cataracts do not cause eye pain

How and when should a cataract be treated?

Surgery is the only treatment for cataracts. Cataract surgery should be considered if the cataract is causing you symptoms that you would like to be improved. Your eye doctor will tell you if your symptoms are caused by the cataract. Nowadays we do not wait for cataracts to ripen, but operate as soon as they cause troublesome symptoms for the patient.

Will I need spectacles after the operation?

Most patients need reading glasses after cataract surgery. The aim for most patients is to make the distance vision as good as possible and for the patient to use reading glasses. Occasionally, short-sighted patients wish to remain short sighted to allow them to read without glasses but to use distance spectacles. These options are available for patients having a monofocal intraocular lens inserted at the time of surgery. You should wait until you have had a post-operative check before visiting the optician.

What if I do not want to use spectacles after the surgery?

There are two options:

Firstly, monovision may be a possibility for you. The dominant eye is made good for distance and the non-dominant eye good for near. This situation can be tolerated very well by some patients and is an option for patients who have been used to monovision before they developed a cataract.

Secondly, a multifocal lens implant may be used. These are an increasingly popular option and are particularly useful for patients who are highly motivated to be free of spectacles after their cataract surgery. The surgery is identical to cataract surgery with a fixed focus implant. The lenses are not free from side effects but are very well accepted by patients. The acrysof ReStor lens shown below is a popular multifocal lens.

acrysof ReStor lens


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