This year’s World Sight Day fell on 13 October 2016. The theme for the day was #StrongerTogether and focused on encouraging eye care health professionals and the public to become more aware of vision impairment and blindness globally. There are 39 million people across the world who are blind, with 246 million having moderate to severe visual impairments. These figures are huge, yet research shows that 80% of visual impairment is avoidable.

What is cataract?

The lens is a structure in the eye that allows light to pass through, enabling our eyes to see. When the clear lens becomes cloudy we call this cataract. The cataract can cause our vision to worsen, whether it is lack of detail or or colours appear faded.

The main cause of cataract is age, however medication, UV exposure, smoking, trauma, medical conditions i.e diabetes may cause/contribute to cataracts.

There are various sorts of cataracts, and some affect vision more than others.

Even though you have been informed of a cataract it does not mean you require surgery immediately. Sometimes depending on the type and positioning of cataract, you are still able to maintain a good level of vision with or without glasses.

Monitoring cataract: We often monitor cataracts between 6 -12 month depending on the level of vision achieved with correction. Patients often appreciate being monitored as it allows them to make informative decisions to whether they are coping or whether referral for surgery is appropriate.

It is important to remember if you are thinking about having the cataract operation, then you might not want to consider investing in new glasses, as your prescription will obviously change after the operation is done. However at OVC we will discuss this with you, and will often offer you a temporary solution until you are seen at the hospital.

How do I know if I am ready to have your cataracts removed?

Vision: Your distance and near will not be as clear i.e you will lack detail. Under the NHS you level of vision significantly worse, but this the optician will tel you if you are ready or not.

Glare: disability glare from ongoing traffic, will cause difficulties in driving

Colour: loss of colour, with a cataract you may find colours faded.

When to remove a cataract?

If you have a slight cataract, surgery is not always required. You must show a deterioration in vision that cannot be corrected with corrective prescription. Cataract surgery on the NHS can only be done if you are struggling with reading, driving or if your optometrist feels it is required.

We do offer Private referrals to Hampshire Clinic in Basingstoke and Private Clinics in Berkshire.

The procedure:

Cataract operation is one of the most common eye surgeries that are done today. It usually takes approximately 30-40 minutes under a local anesthetic, which means you are in hospital for half a day. The procedure involves removing the lens and inserting an intraocular lens/implant.

If you require both cataracts to be removed in each eye- they will be done on separate occasions. To allow one eye to heal before they attempt the other.

Pre and Post -operative complications

The risk of complication is very slim, however it important to know that with any type of surgery still has a risk element. A small risk to infection and the worst case can cause blindness. Very rare again but a bleed, tearing of the lens capsule, or fragment of the natural lens can be retained. The surgeon will discuss this with you in a lot more detail and discuss any other known risks.

It is common once the cataract has been removed and replaced, a membrane can form causing the lens to go cloudy again, which usually occurs months to years after the operation. This can cause your vision to deteriorate just like the cataract. Surgery is not required in this case but can be rectified with a painless laser procedure that takes approximately a few minutes. This procedure will help remove the debris that is obscuring your vision.

As part of your ongoing care at Optimum vision Clinic we will refer you back to ophthalmology if required.

If you are interested in a Private referral this can be arranged for you as well. We work closely with private clinic in Hampshire and Berkshire.

If you have any concerns or would like to speak to one of our Optometrists to be referred for cataract whether through the NHS or privately, then please call (0118) 981 0267.