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CATARACT

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A cataract is not a growth, but rather a clouding of the normally transparent and flexible lens of the eye. This condition usually develops over some time and interferes with light entering the eye, which affects a person’s ability to see clearly. If left untreated, people with cataracts may eventually go blind. Both eyes may be affected, although not usually to the same extent.

Cataracts are mainly diagnosed in people over 60 but can occur at any age (some babies may even be born with congenital cataracts). Age is the major risk factor for developing cataracts. However, a cataract can also be associated with eye trauma, prolonged use of steroids, or previous inflammation and infection in the eye.

Early cataracts are often managed with a change in your glasses or contact lens prescription. When this stops working and/or you can’t perform your daily tasks, then it could be time to consider cataract surgery. This involves replacing the dysfunctional lens with an artificial one. The same procedure can also be used as an alternative to laser eye surgery to correct vision, regardless of whether cataracts are present. If the person does not have cataracts, it is referred to as refractive lens exchange or clear lens surgery.

Cataract surgery

This is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the world. The surgery involves:

  1. Administering a local anaesthetic to the eye(s)
  2. Making a tiny 2–3 mm incision in the outermost layer of the eye (the cornea)
  3. Making an evenly round incision in the ‘bag’ (capsule) containing the affected lens
  4. Breaking up the affected lens into smaller pieces with an ultrasound
  5. Removing these pieces with a vacuum and flushing the lens capsule to clean it
  6. Inserting and accurately positioning a clear artificial replacement lens (known as an intraocular lens or IOL).

The new lens can’t be felt once placed inside the eye. When a lens is replaced, it is not possible to develop another cataract.

The operation itself takes less than 30 minutes and can be performed in a day surgery or in hospital. At SmartVision, your procedure will be performed in one of our fully equipped, accredited, state-of-the-art day surgeries.

Symptoms

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  • Blurred, cloudy or dim vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night or in low-light situations
  • Being sensitive to bright lights and glare
  • Needing stronger glasses and more frequently
  • Colours appearing faded or yellow
  • Double vision in the affected eye

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What to expect on the day of surgery?

Cataract and lens surgeries are performed as day procedures at one of our dedicated day surgery facilities. You will receive detailed instructions about daily routine and taking medications prior to your surgery.

On the day of your surgery, your pupil will be dilated using eye drops and your eye will be prepped for surgery. You may also be given a mild sedative. A local anaesthetic will be applied to your eye and you will be operated on in the laser suite and/or operating theatre. Once the surgery is complete, a protective cover will be placed over your eye.

You will then be moved to the recovery area and offered something to eat and drink. After resting, you will be able to go home – you will not allowed to drive home or take public transport so remember to arrange for someone to pick you up. You will be discharged with eye drops and instructions on how to use them and also how to clean around your eye. It’s normal to experience some discomfort, including itching, sensitivity to light and a slight discharge. A follow-up appointment is normally scheduled within 48 hours of the operation to make sure your eye is healing properly.

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RECOVERY

One of the safest surgical procedures in the world today, with a success rate of 99%.

Your sight will usually recover within days but typically fluctuates for about a month before stabilising. If you notice any significant reduction in your vision, tell your surgeon immediately. The protective shield is usually worn for the first day and your surgeon may also recommend the shield be used for the first few nights after the operation – this is usually the case if you can’t stop rubbing your eyes. Cataract surgery does not usually involve stitches.

Normal daily activities such as light housework can be resumed within a couple of days. Check with your doctor if you plan to play contact sports.

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