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. 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 performed by removing the old, clouded lens, and replacing it with an artificial lens. This surgery is performed to a high level of definition by using Spherical intraocular lenses and Toric intraocular lenses, for patients with pre-existing astigmatism, to reduce their dependence on spectacles post operatively.

Before surgery

Be sure to mention any special medical risks that you may have and ask Dr Apel if you should continue your usual medications.

Your eye will be measured with special instruments to determine the power of the intraocular lens to be placed in the eye during surgery.

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

If new glasses are required they can be prescribed 4 weeks after the operation

How long you are off work depends on the type of work you do – Ask Dr Apel about this.