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Cataract surgery is essential to preserve vision when a cataract has formed in the lens of the eye. It involves the removal of the existing, cloudy lens which is then replaced with a tiny plastic intraocular lens. Read our content below to find out more about the procedure, lens choice, NHS vs private, price and more.
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 London and Elstree clinics removes the cloudy lens protein and replaces this with a lens implant which can correct your glasses prescription for distance and near vision.
Find out more about what to expect from cataract surgery, including preparation, the surgery itself and recovery.
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.
We recommend taking at least two days off work for the surgery itself and recovery time (most people spend about 2.5 hours at the clinic on the day). We suggest bringing sunglasses for your journey home after surgery. Please don’t wear any eye make up.
You may want to bring someone along to help you get home after the surgery, as your vision will remain blurry for up to 72 hours afterwards. You should not drive immediately after surgery, so should either arrange a lift from someone, use public transport or get a taxi home.
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. Glasses may still be needed for all activities, especially if there is astigmatism.
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, Extended Range (allowing for distance and intermediate vision correction) and Multifocal (allowing for correction of near, intermediate and distance vision). All of these lenses come in toric (astigmatism correcting) versions as needed.
Corrects vision well, but only corrects either distance or close-up vision.
Enhanced premium Monofocal allowing for improved quality of vision.
Corrects distance vision whilst also enhancing intermediate distance vision
Allows for correction of near, intermediate and distance vision.
Used to correct astigmatism. Toric versions available for all lens types.
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.
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.
There are some alternatives to traditional cataract surgery that your surgeon may recommend based on various factors.
Our surgeons perform femtosecond laser cataract surgery with the use of a bladeless, femtosecond laser, which offers a new level of precision to traditional cataract surgery. This is offered at an additional charge of £500 per eye.
We 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 or keratoconus.
As experts in the treatment of high myopia, we have extensive research & practical expertise with Phakic IOL technology – the Visian implantable contact lens. This may be an option for those with dry eyes or thin corneas.
Refractive lens exchange surgery (RLE), also known as PreLex (presbyopic lens exchange), clear lens extraction (CLE) and permanent lens replacement surgery, treats patients with reading vision difficulty.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hear from our surgeons answering common questions about cataract surgery. For more videos, visit our YouTube channel.
We understand that you may have questions about undertaking cataract surgery. Here we answer some of the most common questions. If you have further queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0203 369 2020.
There are three main types of cataract, dependent on which layer of the lens the cataract affects. The three main types are cortical, nuclear and po.sterior sub-capsular
In the two days after cataract surgery, you may find that your vision is hazy. This will lessen as your pupil returns to its normal size. You may also feel that your eye is gritty, but this should soon fade. If you experience severe pain, contact your surgeon immediately.
Cataract surgery is performed by making a small cut in the cornea to remove the cloudy lens. A new, artificial lens is then inserted.
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).
Last updated on November 24th, 2022 by Ms Laura De Benito