Around half of all people over 65 are likely to develop a cataract in one or both eyes. The clouding of the lens is progressive over time, and can lead to poor vision and can decrease quality of life. Cataract surgery is a routine operation that can restore sight within days.

Avoiding strong sunlight by wearing good sunglasses, not smoking and maintaining a good diet and good general health can all reduce cataract risk. Once a cataract does start to develop, stronger glasses or contact lenses, using brighter lights and magnifying aids can help but, eventually, cataract surgery is the only treatment that can restore your vision.

Cataract surgery: the procedure in detail

Like many forms of eye surgery performed at The London Clinic, cataract surgery is done on a day case basis. It is a surprisingly fast operation, taking only about 20-30 minutes per eye.

You will have surgery in one of our ophthalmic operating rooms and the surgery is usually performed under local anaesthetic. The surgeon makes small incisions at the side of the cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye. An opening is made in the lens capsule.  A small ultrasound probe is then used to emulsify and remove the lens. The capsule that normally holds the lens in place is left intact and the artificial lens, made from silicone or high grade plastic, is gently eased in.

Your consultant will then typically see you a week or so after surgery or sooner if needed.

The lenses used in cataract surgery

The lenses used in your cataract surgery are specifically chosen to correct your vision taking into account your preferences. You will have discussed these with your surgeon before your cataract surgery and biometry will have been used to measure the strength of lens that you will need.

You then have a choice of lens type:

  • Most patients have monofocal lenses that improve distance vision: they are then dependent on glasses for reading.
  • Some patients opt for monovision: one eye (normally the dominant eye) is set up for distance and the other is set up for reading. This is not suitable for all patients but it can be a solution that avoids the need for reading glasses.

If you have cataract surgery at The London Clinic you also have the choice of multifocal lenses that can allow you to have good near and distance vision from each eye. These are not funded by medical insurance but can allow patients to be more spectacle-independent. Again, they are not suitable for everyone and a discussion with your consultant is essential if you are thinking about this option.