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Cataract

As we get older the lens inside the eye starts to change in other ways. Whilst transparent in youth, it starts to become increasingly cloudy as it gets older. Any cloudiness of the eye lens is called a cataract. Cataract is not a film or skin over the eye. At first this clouding of the lens does not cause a problem, but as it increases it starts to affect the quality of vision. It can be subtle at first but as time goes on colours are not as deep and things are not as sharp. Other things like glare are noticed particularly with oncoming car headlights. Slowly the vision starts to deteriorate and in extreme cases the eye sees very little. The whole process is completely painless. It usually affects both eyes but commonly one eye is more affected than the other.

One of the very early effects of cataract is that the lens becomes stronger at focusing in spite of not changing shape. This is because the early clouding is in the centre of the lens which makes it more powerful. In effect the eye starts to become more short-sighted. Those who only ever needed reading glasses may notice they don’t need them as much. This is known as second sight of the aged. The initial advantage is lost however as the cloudiness increases and the detrimental effects worsen.

For people who were always short-sighted, the early stages of cataract mean they become even more so. At this stage all that may be required is a change in glasses to keep their vision satisfactory. Those who were always longsighted on the other hand become less so as their eyes become stronger with the beginning of cataract. Again in the early stages a change in glasses is all that is required.

Eventually the vision is affected to the extent that changing glasses no longer helps. Your optician will then recommend cataract surgery and refer you to the clinic. If appropriate you will then be offered cataract surgery to one or both eyes.

Put at its most simple, cataract surgery involves removing the old cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear plastic one.

The original cloudy lens is replaced with a clear plastic lens called an implant.
Previously the operation required a large incision into the eye so the old lens could be removed and the implant put in. Therefore stitches had to be put into the eye. This made the both operation and the healing process more prolonged.

Nowadays cataract surgery is performed through a very small incision. All modern cataract procedures are available in Derby.

Using a vibrating probe the cloudy lens is broken up and removed, a process known a phacoemulsification or “phaco”.  This together with the fact that the implants are foldable means that stitches are not required in the vast majority of cases. The healing process is much faster and the vision improves soon after the operation.

An eye with an implant in place. Roger Holden Eye Surgeon

Eye with implant in place

A video of a typical operation is available on www.eyecareamerica.org/eyecare/treatment/cataract-surgery/video.cfm. Almost all cataract surgery is performed as a day case under local anaesthesia. 

Other aspects of cataract are best dealt with as frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

 

General eye problems

Adult Squint
/
AMD
/
Presbyopia and normal ageing of the eye
/
Cataract
/
Cataract FAQ's
/
Refractive surgery of the lens and correction of presbyopia
/
Dry eye
//
Glaucoma
//
Retinal Vein Occlusion

 

Derby Eye Surgery

Appointments. Tel. 0300 790 6190
NHS enquiries. Tel. 01332 787512
Secretary. Tel. 01332 510784
Email. rhoeyes@googlemail.com

 
 
 
 Roger Holden Eye Surgeon
 
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