Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
St. James University Hospital, Leeds, UK

Surgical management

What is a cataract?
The natural lens in your eye helps you to see clearly by focusing the light rays entering your eye. 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 let you know if cataract surgery is suitable for you.

What are the benefits of surgery?
If the operation is successful, your vision should improve.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?
New glasses may improve your vision to some extent. However, 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?
Cataract surgery is usually performed under local anaesthetic eye drops. The operation usually takes about 15-20 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. He 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 then insert the lens implant behind the iris in the same bag (or capsule) that held the natural lens in place.

What should I do about my medication?
You should make sure your surgeon knows the medication you are on and follow their advice. You may need to stop taking warfarin, clopidogrel or tamsulosin before your operation.

What can I do to help make the operation a success?
Keeping in the same position
If your operation is being performed under a local anaesthetic, you will need to lie still and flat during the operation. If you cannot lie still and flat, you should let your surgeon know. Your face will be covered with a cloth to allow your surgeon to work on a clean surface. Air will be blown gently towards your nose. If you are claustrophobic, you should let your surgeon know.

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