Are there any risks to cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery has been around for very many years now and with modern surgical techniques is very safe. It is the commonest eye operation we do and many thousands are done every year. Yet no operation or procedure is risk free of course, and one of the complications we want to avoid is infection, which is why I always give my patients antibiotic eye drops after surgery. Another condition to be aware of much later down the line is Posterior Capsule Opacification or PCO. Maybe 20% or a fifth of people get this over time. This is a condition whereby the little bag the new lens sits in (this is the bag the old lens originally sat in too) thickens, leading to a gradual deterioration in eyesight again. However with followup this condition is easily picked up and can be effectively treated with outpatient laser therapy.
What happens after my operation?
For most people the improvement in eyesight is astonishing and immediate. Right away you will notice your vision is much brighter and clearer, and your vision will continue to improve over the next week or so. It is normal to feel some itching or discomfort for 2 or 3 days, after which even that should settle down. You will be able to carry on with your normal day-to-day activities as usual and I will see you about a week or so after your operation to see how you are getting on. I will also give you contact details so you can get in touch with me right away if you have any concerns in the meantime.
What do you replace the cataract with?
Once the cataract is removed, an artificial folding silicone lens is inserted into the eye.
Once inside the eye, the artificial lens unfolds.
As it is clear, the light entering the eye can now focus clearly on the retina.
The new lens does not need replacing.
Will my surgery be painful?
No, your cataract surgery will be painless.
Most cataract surgery can be performed under local anaesthetic.
This means you will be awake for the procedure.
Eye drops can be used to numb the surface of the eye or local anaesthetic can be delivered around the eye.
This ensures you will have a pain-free operation.
Will I be able to see the surgeon’s instruments?
No, you will not be able to see what the surgeon is doing or using during your cataract surgery.
Your vision will be temporarily blurred from the local anaesthetic.
You may see a bright light during the surgery.
Is giving injections into the eye safe?
Yes, it is. There are always risks of course in anything – think of crossing the road even – but I have given thousands of these injections and the only ‘problems’ I usually see are:
• Minor bleeding into the eye.
• Discomfort in the eye.
• A feeling of pressure in the eye.
• Inflammation or infection of the eye – very uncommon.
Will I need glasses after cataract surgery?
The aim of cataract surgery is to restore your vision, but because I carefully choose a lens specific to your eyesight when I replace your old cloudy lens you may find that you do not need glasses at all, or can use less powerful ones. You are likely to still need reading glasses though.
What if I have cataracts in both eyes? Will you treat them both at the same time?
It is not a good idea to operate on both eyes at the same time, so what I do is treat the cataract in the worst eye first then maybe 3 weeks later treat the remaining eye.
What will happen if I leave my cataracts?
By the time you are diagnosed with cataracts you will likely have had the problem for many months, even years before noticing it. If you leave your cataracts untreated your vision will gradually get worse and affect your day-to-day life more. However you will not harm you if you prefer to wait for longer before getting them treated.
How long does the new lens last for? Will it need replacing?
The new lens lasts a lifetime and does not need to be replaced again.
If you take out my cataract do you put anything in its place?
Yes, I will replace the old, cloudy lens with a new, waterclear implant tailormade for you.
How long does the operation take?
About 20 – 25 minutes.
Can you have AMD in only one eye?
Yes, you can. However it is much more common to have AMD in both eyes, but you only notice it in the one eye because it is worse in that one.
Can you have both Dry and Wet AMD?
Yes. You can have dry AMD in one eye and wet in the other. In fact, it is also possible to have BOTH wet and Dry AMD in both eyes! This is one of the reasons why you should only trust an expert to look after your eyes.
In fact one famous person has Wet AMD in one eye and Dry AMD in the other: Dame Judi Dench!
Does AMD ever get better?
No. Dry AMD may get worse only very slowly though, which is obviously good news. Wet AMD however can progress very quickly, causing serious problems with your vision. However, if picked up early you can see a dramatic improvement with treatment.
Does Dry AMD always go on to Wet AMD?
No. You can have dry AMD for many years and still not get wet AMD. The big ‘but’ though is you need to keep a very close watch on people with dry AMD because quite a few go on to develop wet AMD – and Wet AMD is a serious problem.
Will vitamins prevent dry getting worse?
We’re still not sure. There is some evidence that it slows the condition down at least – but this is not yet proven.
Do injections into the eye hurt?
Most people feel slight discomfort only, because I always give local anaesthetic drops first, I always use a very fine needle – almost as thin as a human hair – and I always inject just into the corner of the eye.
If you have Wet AMD you will need several injections, and I have never had a patient cancel an appointment because the injections hurt her – not even once.
Will I see the needle?
Only if you want to! The injection is given into the corner of the eye so no, you won’t normally see the needle at all.
Do you give any anaesthetic before giving the injections?
Always. I always give eye drops into the eye to make it nice and numb before giving the injection.
Can you have cataracts and AMD?
Yes you can. And because both conditions affect older people there are many people with both conditions. This is another reason to see an expert early if you have any trouble with your vision at all. Your vision is too precious to risk anything else.
Are you more likely to get AMD if you have cataracts?
No. But both are common conditions and both affect the same sorts of people, so many people do have both.
Can you treat AMD with stem cells?
Not yet. One day perhaps, but any treatment with stem cells is many years away yet.
Will taking high doses of vitamins prevent me getting AMD?
We do not believe that taking high doses of vitamins will prevent AMD.