Cataracts

Cataracts

A cataract causes clouding of the lens in your eye. The lens is located behind the iris which is the coloured part of the eye, and works like the lens of a camera. Cataracts are caused by the aging process, sun damage, injury, some medications or it may be congenital. Cataracts cause images to be blurred, seeing at night is more difficult, and glasses or contact lenses no longer seem to help with reading or simple tasks.

Treatment

There are no medications, dietary supplements, exercises or optical devices that have been shown to prevent or cure cataracts. Protection from excessive sunlight may slow the progression of cataracts. Sunglasses that screen out ultraviolet (UV) light provide some protection.

Surgery is required when a patients vision deteriorates due to the cataract, and is affecting lifestyle, work performance, driving capabilities or patient mobility and safety. Surgery is performed by removing the old, clouded lens, and replacing it with a clear, artificial lens. This surgery is performed to a high level of definition by using implant Intraocular Lenses (IOLs) that are unique and tailored to the individual patients’ eye.

Intraocular Lens (IOL) Implants

Two types of IOLs are available to replace your natural lens, depending on your vision needs, the health of your eyes, and the degree of cataract. They are:

  • Monofocal IOLs. Monofocal lenses provide clear vision at distance, intermediate or near ranges — but not all three at once. Toric IOLs to correct astigmatism also are classified as monofocal IOLs.
  • Multifocal IOLs. These more advanced implants are highly specific and customised to the individual, providing clear vision at distance, intermediate and near simultaneously. They can also be used to correct astigmatism.

These implants work differently from multifocal/progressive prescription glasses, in which the prescription changes from the top to the bottom of the lens. In Multifocal IOL implants, the powers are distributed across concentric rings throughout the lens. This allows independence from glasses for all viewing distances without the need for conscious thought about head or eye positions.

Please note that as of 1 st April 2019, all Private Health Funds will undergo a government enforced reform, with hospital products and services restructured in new tier based cover. It is important to check with your private health insurer if your cover still includes Cataract Surgery after the restructure.

About Cataract Surgery

Before Surgery

Each surgery is tailored to the patient’s degree of cataract, and visual expectations after surgery. The Eye Health Centre takes pride in meeting all patient’s expectations after their procedure is complete.

Some patients are happy to wear spectacles after the surgery, if their surgical outcome allows them to regain a driving licence, continue a hobby, or perform general day to day tasks that the cataracts were previously making difficult. Other patients prefer to take the opportunity to replace the cloudy lens with an artificial lens that also corrects their pre-existing vision error, known as the prescription.
This means patients may no longer require glasses after the surgery, for tasks including driving, reading, sports or computer work. The pre-op workup is a very important component to ensuring this outcome is possible.

A number of highly specialised instruments are used to collect precise information about your eye, which allows accurate calculation of the intraocular lens that will be placed in the eye during surgery. We encourage patients to who wish to understand more about the options for post cataract surgery vision outcomes to make an appointment with our Clinical Optometrists for further discussions.

On the day of Surgery

For most people this procedure is a day procedure. Just before surgery you will be given eye drops to enlarge your pupil. A local anaesthetic will numb the area to be operated on. You will be under twilight anaesthesia during the procedure and you should not feel any pain. You may see light and movement, but you will not be able to see the surgery while it is happening. You will not have to worry about keeping your eye open.

The skin around the eye will be cleaned with antiseptic and a sterile drape will be placed over the face. There will be plenty of oxygen and fresh air to breathe. The operation generally takes up to 15 minutes.

The operation is performed with the aid of an operating microscope. A small incision is made at the top or side of the eye. The eye is not taken out of its socket during the surgery. Instruments are used to fragment the cloudy lens. These fragments are then suctioned out of the eye. The back membrane of the lens (called the posterior capsule) is left in place. A plastic intraocular lens implant is placed inside the eye to replace the natural lens that is removed. The wound is then closed.

After the Operation

After the surgery dark sunglasses will be used to protect the eye from glare and accidental rubbing or bumping.

Your sight will usually improve after 48 hours. You will need to take it easy for a week so that the eye can heal. Eye drops will need to be used. It is a good idea to have some help at home, especially if you find it difficult to put drops in your eye.

Immediately Post Operatively

  • Avoid rubbing your eye
  • Avoid heavy lifting, straining, strenuous exercise and swimming
  • You can do light housework or cooking, but try to get some help if you can
  • Wash your hair leaning backwards rather than forwards
  • Avoid eye make up for 4 weeks
  • Avoid driving for the immediate 48 hours following surgery