Cataracts are a common visual problem. Often developing very gradually, the natural crystalline lens becomes clouded, causing vision to become misty. It the most common cause of vision loss in the world. The word “cataract” comes from the Greek word “Cataracti” which means waterfall. The lens can take on this appearance when the condition is quite advanced.
The clouding of the natural lens of the eye affects us all as we age. Some of us develop this condition earlier than others but with all of us now living longer, unfortunately, this has become one of life’s inevitabilities. The longer cataracts are left to develop, the more severely they can affect the clarity of your vision. If left untreated, cataracts can eventually result in blindness.
Fortunately, cataracts are treatable, and advances in treatment mean that the problem can be dealt with very effectively through a simple and safe procedure.
The lens of each eye needs to be clear in order for your eyes to work properly, so cloudy lenses adversely affect your vision. In a normal eye, the clear lens allows light to reach the retina at the back of the eye, which then communicates with the brain via the optic nerve – this is how we see. However, with a cataract, less light can reach the retina, so your vision is affected.
The problem tends to develop slowly over time. Eventually, cataracts result in a gradual loss of the clarity of vision. Often, patients may complain of:
Cataracts are not painful, but it is important to get your eyes checked as soon as you begin to experience any of these symptoms. By getting seen sooner rather than later, you can limit the impact that cataracts will have on your vision.
As well as getting older, there are other factors that contribute to the likelihood of developing cataracts, although we don’t yet fully understand what causes them.
Age: Because they develop gradually over time, cataracts are much more common in older people
UV damage as a result of exposure to sunlight
Familial factors: cataracts run in families, so if close relatives suffer from the symptoms then there will be an increased risk to yourself
There’s no guarantee that you will be able to prevent cataracts, which are extremely common in people over 60. But cataract causes and prevention are closely linked; there are a few things that you can do to reduce your chances of developing the condition, by addressing the risk factors associated with cataracts.
The only way to treat cataracts is through the surgical removal of the cloudy protein within the natural lens. There is no way to reverse or “cure” a cataract.
Cataract surgery is a very successful treatment option and is the most commonly performed procedure in the UK with over 300,000 surgeries being performed every year. The surgery takes around 30 minutes, and is performed as a day case under local anesthetic in most cases.
An ultrasound probe is used to gently break up and remove the cloudy protein from the natural lens, preparing the eye for an artificial lens to be inserted.
Additionally, it is now possible to remove cataracts using Femtosecond Laser Technology combined with ultrasound technology. This new generation of cataract surgery uses a special type of laser to help remove the cataract, reducing the manual element of the surgery. The laser, known as a femtosecond laser, is programmed to make precise incisions in exactly the right places within the cornea and lens. The cataract is then removed using a sophisticated ultrasonic device.
“If Apple did cataract operations, then they would do them like OCL do cataract operations. All the staff are knowledgeable and well organised. Everything went according to plan, the operation, recovery and aftercare. Many thanks for improving my eyesight.”
Cataract surgery complications are uncommon
Cataract surgery, like all surgery, can have complications. National statistics show a complication rate of 2-3% across all surgeons. Experienced eye surgeons have significantly lower rates of complications and our consultants have audited complication rates below 0.5%. Risk of sight loss is thought to be 1/10000 based on national statistics.
Rare complications include;
Longer-term issues after cataract surgery include lens capsule opacification, which occurs in 20-30% of patients after surgery. Capsular opacification is easily treated with a YAG laser capsulotomy as an outpatient procedure. Read more about YAG laser here.
Cataract surgery is a safe and effective way to restore vision and serious complications are very rare. A national statistic shows that 97% of cataract surgery patients enjoy improved vision with no complications, however at OCL Vision our success rate is 99.5%.
85% of our patients have better than 20/20 vision one month on from the procedure (the national average is 51%), and 100% of our patients have better than 20/40 vision (the legal driving standard) one month on from the procedure.
In 2018, OCL surgeons, Allon Barsam, Romesh Angunawela and Ali Mearza were voted by their peers as some of the UK’s best cataract surgeons following a National survey of eye surgeons by the Daily Mail. They are regularly consulted by industry and feature on advisory boards for new technologies. It’s a testament to our surgeons that we’re trusted the world over to test and use new technology, and that we’re involved in pushing lens and laser eye surgery to exciting new possibilities.
All surgeons have been dual fellowship trained at centres of excellence in London and internationally.Read more
Bespoke treatment plan tailored directly by your surgeon with comprehensive aftercare and support.Read more
We have invested in the best currently available technology for laser eye surgery and lens surgeryRead more
Our flagship clinic in Central London and satellite clinics in London and Hertfordshire are equipped with the latest technologyRead more
For those who feel unable to attend in person we are now offering expert support through video consultations for self-pay & insured patientsRead more