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Cataract surgery is essential to preserve vision when a cataract has formed on the lens of the eye. It involves the removal of the existing, cloudy lens which is then replaced with a tiny plastic or silicone intraocular lens.
Find out more about what to expect from private cataract surgery, aftercare, lens choice, possible complications and the difference between NHS & private cataract surgery below.
Cataract surgery is the lens replacement surgery required when a cataract occurs in the eye. This is when the natural lens has lost its clarity and has become cloudy. The cataract causes blurred vision, loss of contrast and can make driving difficult. Cataracts can occur at any age but are most common in people over 60 years old, due to the natural ageing process of the eye. Cataracts can also be genetic, or caused by other factors such as diabetes or previous eye trauma.
If left untreated cataracts normally become larger, obstructing vision more over time, and eventually lead to blindness.
Private cataract surgery at our central London clinic removes the cloudy lens protein and replaces this with a lens implant which can correct your glasses prescription for distance and near vision.
The cataract treatment process will begin with a consultation with your surgeon, typically 1-4 weeks before your surgery. During this meeting, your consultant will perform specialist diagnostic tests on your eye and you’ll discuss lens choice.
A few things to bear in mind before the procedure:
When you’ve arrived at the clinic before surgery, you’ll be given some eye drops to dilate your pupil. A nurse will then discuss aftercare with you so you can be confident in how best to look after your eye following surgery.
Then you’ll be given more eye drops, this time a local anaesthetic to minimise pain during the procedure. The surgery typically only takes 10-15 minutes per eye to perform.
During the procedure, a small cut is made in the cornea, either using a surgical blade or a femtosecond laser. A hole is made in the capsule bag and the cataract broken up into tiny pieces to remove it. The new intraocular lens is then implanted through ultra-precise keyhole surgery. After surgery, you’ll be able to rest in our relaxation suite for 30-45 minutes.
You’ll have your eyes checked a final time before you go home. You’ll also be given some eye drops and instructions about how often to use them and for how long. Your eyes will feel tired and gritty for the remainder of the day, so do stay at home and rest. Your vision will be slightly misty for up to 72 hours after surgery, but you may notice a dramatic improvement in your sight immediately.
In the first couple of days post-surgery, you’re likely to experience some or all of the following:
Your pupil will return to its normal size after about two days and this will dramatically improve your overall vision.
Cataract surgery has extremely high success rates. At OCL Vision we have serious complication rates lower than 0.2% and an infection rate of 0% due to our high standards of care and surgery always being performed by a consultant.
Find out more about what happens after cataract surgery, and which symptoms aren’t normal.
The simplest lens option for cataract surgery is a standard monofocal lens. This is what your surgeon will implant if you get cataract surgery on the NHS. This lens type corrects vision well, but can only be used for either distance or close-up vision, but not both.
A major advantage of getting private cataract surgery with OCL Vision is that we offer the latest lens technologies to achieve the best possible unaided vision for our patients. All our lenses also have UV filters built in for added protection.
We offer a range of advanced lenses, including premium Monofocal, enhanced premium Monofocal (allowing for astigmatism correction) and Multifocal (allowing for correction of near, intermediate and distance vision).
More about lens choice
Cataract surgery complications are uncommon. However, as with all surgery, there are some possible complications to be aware of.
The most common complication is posterior capsule opacification (PCO), which occurs in 5-10% of patients following cataract surgery at OCL Vision. This is when you develop cloudy vision and happens when a membrane grows in the lens capsule, over your artificial lens. PCO is easily treatable with YAG laser treatment, which is offered by OCL Vision and is a quick and painless procedure.
Other, more serious complications are very rare. These include:
If you have any concerns about complications following your cataract surgery, please contact OCL Vision and your surgeon will be able to check your eyes.
There are a number of differences between going to the NHS for your cataract surgery, and going privately through OCL Vision. Here are some of the key ones. You can read more here.
We provide fee-assured private insurance services at our cataract surgery clinics.
We are part of the AXA PPP and BUPA cataract networks; if you’re insured with these companies, we will bill your insurer a pre-agreed package price to include your initial consultation, surgery and follow-up appointments.
Learn more about private insurance options at OCL Vision here: Insurance options at OCL Vision
We offer 0% interest/APR finance options. Choose to spread the cost of your cataract surgery over 6, 12 or 24 months. A minimum 10% deposit will be required.
There are some alternatives to traditional cataract surgery that your surgeon may recommend based on various factors.
Our surgeons at OCL Vision perform femtosecond laser cataract surgery with the use of a bladeless, femtosecond laser (the latest advance in cataract surgery), which offers a new level of precision to traditional cataract surgery. This technology is offered at an additional charge of £500 per eye.
Read more here
We can perform innovative lens implant surgery for people who are not suitable for standard cataract surgery or permanent lens replacement surgery, such as patients with irregular-shaped corneas, keratoconus and patients who have had radial keratotomy surgery.
As experts in the treatment of high myopia, at OCL Vision we have extensive research and practical expertise with Phakic IOL technology – the Visian implantable contact lens.
Refractive lens exchange surgery (RLE), also known as PreLex (presbyopic lens exchange), clear lens extraction (CLE) and permanent lens replacement surgery is a type of surgery performed to treat patients with reading vision difficulty.
Can you cure a cataract without surgery? No – unfortunately there is no cure for a cataract without surgery. The only option is to remove the clouded lens and replace it with a new clear lens. There are many types of lenses available depending on your individual needs and whether you would prefer to be free from glasses after surgery.
How long can cataract surgery be postponed? The decision to proceed with cataract surgery will depend on how well you see. As a cataract causes the natural lens in the eye to go cloudy, the longer you leave it, the more cloudy the lens becomes, progressively worsening your vision. In some people this can then lead to falls or the inability to legally drive. Most people notice an improvement in their vision within days of surgery and wish they had done it sooner.
Can you sleep on your side after cataract surgery? Yes, you can sleep on your side, although we give you clear eye shields to wear for the first 2 nights to prevent you rubbing your eyes during the night, so you may find it more comfortable to lie on your back.
Do you wear an eyepatch after cataract surgery? After cataract surgery we give you eye drops to use for 4 weeks. The drops include an antibiotic drop to help prevent any infection; 2 types of an anti-inflammatory drops to prevent any redness and lubricant drops to use regularly if your eyes feel tired or gritty. We have an app which is free to download on your device that will send you notifications when your drops are due so that you never miss a drop.
How long will it take to get clear vision after cataract surgery? 80% of patients get reasonably clear vision the day after surgery, with further improvement in the following days. Some eyes take longer to heal, especially when the cataracts are quite dense to begin with. But even in these cases, there is a significant improvement in the first week after surgery.
How long do I have to wait before driving after cataract surgery? You should not drive until your vision has cleared and you feel comfortable to do so. This usually occurs one to two days after surgery, but may be longer depending on how the eye heals, and the density of the cataract to begin with. Most patients reach the driving standard of vision within a week of the surgery.
If you suffer from cataracts, you are more than likely suitable for surgery. If you have any questions about private cataract surgery or OCL Vision and its surgeons, please feel free to get in touch or call us on 0203 369 2020
How much does private cataract surgery cost?
What are the different lens types used in cataract surgery?
What are the different types of cataract?
What can you expect after cataract surgery?
How is cataract surgery performed?
If you’re considering private cataract surgery, you can visit us for a consultation at a variety of locations in London, Hertfordshire and Kent. Our central London clinic is just off Harley Street at 55 New Cavendish Street and our Hertfordshire clinic is in Elstree, close to Borehamwood. We also have clinics at Moorfields Eye Hospital (central London), Chiswick (west London), Redbridge (east London) or Ashford (Kent).
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These are some of the key reasons why our patients choose to have cataract surgery at OCL Vision in London, Hertfordshire or Kent. Find out more about why you should choose OCL Vision, including testimonials, here.
London NHS cataract surgery waiting times increased 84% from 2019 to 2021. Skip the queue with OCL Vision and have your surgery at a time that suits you, performed by a consultant of your choice.
Our surgeons have been voted as some of the best in the UK. We’re proud of our results: 100% of our patients reach the driving standard of vision or better and our complication rate is less than half the national average at below 1%.
We offer sophisticated lenses such as trifocal lenses, which aren’t available within the NHS. These allow us to correct for near, middle and distance vision, for the best chance of glasses independence. We’re also pioneers in offering femtosecond laser cataract surgery for a new level of precision.
Our reviews speak for themselves. With over 1,700 5* reviews, we’re ranked as one of the top eye care clinics in the UK.
All surgeons have been dual fellowship trained at centres of excellence in London and internationally.
Bespoke treatment plan tailored directly by your surgeon with comprehensive aftercare and support.
We have invested in the best currently available technology for laser eye surgery and lens surgery
Our clinic in Central London and other clinics in London, Hertfordshire and Kent are equipped with the latest technology
For those who feel unable to attend in person we are now offering expert support through video consultations for self-pay & insured patients
We are partnered with Novuna and can offer 0% finance for all of our eye surgery procedures. Our affordable finance can make it easier to spread the cost of surgery over a number of months if required.