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If you’ve just found out that you need cataract surgery or you suspect that you might have to have cataract treatment, then this article will help you to understand all about it. Firstly, it’s important to note that cataract eye surgery is a very straightforward operation, and it is extremely common. There are about 60,000 cataract surgeries performed every day across the world – that’s approximately 28 million a year, so there’s no need to worry.
Cataract Vision Symptoms
Your cataract symptoms usually present themselves as a cloudiness in your eye, so your vision is impaired as it isn’t as sharp and clear as it used to be. That’s because the natural lens in your eye has become cloudy and cataract treatment involves replacing the lens with an artificial one, therefore restoring the sharpness of your eyesight. It is generally a successful surgery and should vastly improve your vision. Expect your cataract surgery recovery time to be approximately 2 to 6 weeks following the operation, which is mostly done under a local anaesthetic as a day case by a qualified eye surgeon.
Cataracts occur when your own eye’s natural lens develops cloudy areas. This doesn’t usually happen during your youth but as you get older, eyes start to develop cloudy areas, a little like looking through frost on a window. This means that your eyesight suffers as you can’t see as clearly as you used to. It’s an aging problem and generally, the condition affects adults from the age of 60+.
Do You Have to Have Surgery?
Of course, you might choose not to have surgery, but the issue is that your cataracts will get worse over time. There is no medication available that reverses the signs, so it’s best advised to find a highly reputable eye surgeon to do the procedure for you. Cataracts can affect your quality of life, certain things you took for granted, like driving for example, may not be possible with severe cataracts and hobbies like playing cards or playing golf might be very hard to enjoy fully. You may decide to monitor your cataracts progress and choose to undergo cataract surgery when the condition worsens.
Before Cataract Surgery
If you don’t already have an eye specialist, you will be referred by your doctor or medical practitioner to assess your eyesight and you will have a number of tests performed on your eye or eyes to determine the extent of the problem. These will be as follows:
- To find out if you are short sighted or long sighted.
- To discuss your cataract surgery recovery time.
- To advise if you will need to wear glasses post-surgery.
- To advise on the risks and the benefits of cataract treatment.
During the Cataract Surgery
Your surgery should take around 45 minutes and will normally be a day case under local anaesthesia so expect to go home on the same day.
During the operation, your eye surgeon will make a very small incision in your eye and remove the cloudy lens, replacing it with a plastic lens that remains fixed to your eye. After surgery you will be told to rest your eyes for a few days and not to wear any make-up for at least 72 hours. The recovery is approximately 2 to 6 weeks in total, but you should be able to wear light make up in the meantime. You can also have both eyes done, but the surgeon will choose to do these separately with up to 12 weeks between each.
After surgery, you may not be able to see a difference immediately but within 48 hours, you should start to see a difference. Your vision will be clearer, and you will see in focus, with bright lights visible (and no glare). You should also be able to differentiate between colours. However, if you have other eye conditions such as glaucoma, your vision might still be impaired. Your surgeon will likely give you drops to reduce any discomfort following surgery.
Understanding the Risks
As with any operation, there will always be some risks. Approximately one in 50 cataract cases result in cataract fails and complications such as:
- Blurred eyesight.
- Loss of some vision.
- Detachment of the retina (when the layer at the back of the eye known as the retina loosens).
There is a risk of 1 in 1,000 patients losing their eyesight in the treated eye (https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts). However this is rare. It is comforting to know that most of the above can be dealt with using medication or more surgery.
Cataract Surgery Cost
This depends on where you live but, in the USA, cataract surgery costs approximately $3,800 to $7,000 per eye and in the United Kingdom, expect to pay around £3,000 to £4,000 per eye. Of course, some health insurance covers the procedure, and some countries provide free or supplemented health care which reduces the cost significantly.
For further information, it’s best to consult with your doctor or medical practitioner and you can also click here for more .
Meta: Find out all about cataracts and cataract surgery including the symptoms, cost, risks and recovery times