Leaving a cataract untreated does not threaten your vision straightaway but it can be disabling.

Our consultant ophthalmologists have specialist training in management of:

  • Cataract, including multifocal lens implantation
  • Retinal diseases lacrimal (watery eye) and oculoplastic conditions glaucoma ocular surface disease and dry eye Neuro-ophthalmology

What is a cataract?

The natural lens in your eye helps you to see clearly by focusing the light rays entering your eye (see figure 1). A cataract is when the natural lens becomes cloudy. This is usually caused by ageing. A cataract causes blurred vision or changes the focus of your eye. Your surgeon will assess you and tell you if cataract surgery is suitable for you. However, it is your decision to go ahead with the operation or not.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your vision should improve.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

New glasses may improve your vision to some extent but if the cataract is too advanced, glasses will not help. In this case, surgery is the only option to restore your vision.

What will happen if I decide not to have the operation?

A cataract usually gets slowly worse. Leaving a cataract untreated does not threaten your vision straightaway but it can be disabling. If the cataract does get worse, your vision will also get gradually worse until you have little vision left.

What does the operation involve?

The healthcare team will carry out a number of checks to make sure you have the operation you came in for and on the correct side. You can help by confirming to your surgeon and the healthcare team your name and the operation you are having. The operation is usually performed under a local anaesthetic that is injected around your eye to numb it or given as eye drops. Sometimes a general anaesthetic is used. Your anaesthetist or surgeon will discuss the options with you and recommend the best form of anaesthesia for you. The operation usually takes about 20 minutes.

Cataract surgery involves removing the cataract and replacing it with an artificial lens implant. Your surgeon will make a small cut at the edge of the cornea, which is the clear part at the front of your eye covering the iris and pupil. They will usually break the cataract into small pieces using ultrasound (sound waves) and then remove it from your eye through the cut. Your surgeon will place the lens implant behind the iris in the same bag (or capsule) in your eye that held the natural lens in place.

What should I do about my medication?

Let your doctor know about all the medication you take and follow their advice. This includes all blood-thinning medication as well as herbal and complementary remedies, dietary supplements, and medication you can buy over the counter.