What is a cataract?
A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens of the eye. Approximately 25% of people over 65 years of age will have some cataract formation. Cataracts can develop in both eyes but the rate at which they develop in each eye often varies.
What causes cataracts?
In many cases there is no apparent cause for a cataract. Cataracts may develop due to a variety of factors including:
- The natural ageing process
- Prolonged exposure to UV light
- Eye trauma
- Diseases such as diabetes
- Long-term use of some medications (particularly Cortisone)
- Hereditary factors
How do I know if I have a cataract?
Common cataract symptoms include, glare, ghosting, multiple images, trouble with near and distance vision and frequent changes in spectacle prescription. You may just notice that your vision is blurred. Your regular eye care practitioner should be able to detect a cataract.
When should I have cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery should be considered when your symptoms interfere with your daily activities or when prescription spectacles no longer provide sufficient visual clarity.
Do I have to stay in hospital overnight for cataract surgery?
No, cataract surgery is a day procedure and you are only required to be at the centre for a couple of hours.
Do I have both eyes operated on at the same time?
No, the second eye may be operated on anytime after the first eye, but not on the same day. There are no set rules for the interval between eyes but one week is the most common interval. Increasingly surgery for the second eye is being performed on the day after the first eye. This decision will be made between you and the surgeon.
Will I need someone to care for me after cataract surgery?
Yes, you will definitely need someone to take you to and collect you from Adelaide Eye & Laser Centre. You will require a companion/carer for the first 24 hours after your procedure due to the sedation given to you prior to your operation.
Should I continue my regular medications before surgery?
Yes, you should continue taking all regular medications before surgery, unless otherwise advised by the surgeon or nursing staff. Be sure to advise the surgeon or nursing staff of all the medications, including complementary medications, you are taking prior to your procedure. Also advise staff of any allergies.
Do I have to wear a patch over my eye after surgery?
As a general rule it is unnecessary to wear a patch over the operated eye after cataract surgery, unless otherwise advised. This is very much a surgeon preference. If required it is only for a few hours.
Is small incision cataract surgery performed with a laser?
Whilst small incision cataract surgery can be assisted by a laser, at this stage we do not believe the benefits have sufficient merit. The procedure is performed with the advanced Centurion phacoemulsifier that uses ultrasound to fragment the natural lens of the eye. The fragments are then vacuumed out via a small incision in the cornea and then replaced with an intraocular lens.
Is small incision cataract surgery painful?
At AE&LC small incision cataract surgery is performed under intravenous sedation with anaesthetic eye drops/gel, so no pain is felt during the procedure and you will have little or no recollection of the procedure.
When can I resume normal activities after cataract surgery?
Vision improves over a 24 to 72 hour period, so you can return to normal activities when comfortable to do so. This includes watching TV, reading, writing and moderate exercise. However, you should not drive for at least 24 hours and avoid swimming and gardening for at least 3 days after surgery.
Will I need to see the surgeon again after my procedure?
Post-operative consultations with the surgeon are scheduled for the day after the procedure and either in the clinic one week after the procedure or by phone with our experienced clinical staff. Follow-up consultations by your regular eye care practitioner occur at 4-6 weeks after the final procedure and then every 1-2 years, unless otherwise advised.
Will I need spectacles after cataract surgery?
Glasses may be needed to correct any astigmatism or residual vision error, including reading glasses. Your regular eye care practitioner can prescribe these approximately 4-6 weeks following cataract surgery.
Can artificial lenses be ‘multifocal’?
Recently improvements in intraocular lenses allow some patients to have reading and distance vision restored with minimal requirement for glasses. These trifocal implants are not suitable for everyone as certain configurations of the eye need to be present. Also, these implants have mixed side effects. If you would like to consider these implants, please ask the surgeon during your consultation.