Cataract & lens surgery (2023)

This page explains what causes cataracts, the symptoms people with cataracts might experience and how cataracts are treated. Readers can find information about the different procedures and replacement lens options and the factors that contribute to variability in the cost of treatment. This information is provided to help people who have cataracts understand what their treatment options are with Vision Eye Institute.

A cataract is not a growth, but rather a clouding of the normally transparent and flexiblelensof the eye. This condition usually develops over some time and interferes with light entering the eye, which affects a person’s ability to see clearly. If left untreated, people with cataracts may eventually go blind. Both eyes may be affected, although not usually to the same extent.

(Video) Eye Surgery- Cataract with Lens Replacement

Cataracts are mainly diagnosed in people over 60 but can occur at any age (some babies may even be born with congenital cataracts). Age is the major risk factor for developing cataracts. However, a cataract can also be associated with eye trauma, prolonged use of steroids, sun exposure or previous inflammation and infection in the eye.

Early cataracts are often managed with a change in your glasses or contact lens prescription. When this stops working and/or you can’t perform your daily tasks, then it could be time to consider cataract surgery. This involves replacing the dysfunctional lens with an artificial one. The same procedure can also be used as an alternative tolaser eye surgeryto correct vision, regardless of whether cataracts are present. If the person does not have cataracts, it is referred to as refractive lens exchange or clear lens surgery.

(Video) Cataract Surgery and Lens Choice

We perform cataract surgery and lens surgery in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, Mackay and Adelaide.

When will I need cataract surgery?

In the early stages, some cataracts can be left untreated. When your sight deteriorates to a point where it interferes with your ability to carry out daily tasks (including seeing in low-light situations such as at night), it could be time to consider surgery.

What is the success rate?

Traditional or manual cataract surgery is considered one of the safest surgical procedures in the world today, with a very high success rate. Laser cataract surgery may reduce the risk of complications even further. Serious complications are rare with cataract surgery but may include endophthalmitis (infection of the eye), bleeding, retinal detachment, macular swelling and posterior capsular rupture.

How long does cataract surgery take?

A typical procedure takes less than 30 minutes. Allowing for admission, preparation and recovery time, you'll be in the day surgery for around 3 hours.

Will it hurt?

No. We will administer a local anaesthetic (numbing drops) to your eye and you may also be given a sedative to help you relax.

What if I blink?

Your surgeon will ensure that your eyelid is gently held open throughout the procedure so that you cannot blink.

Will I be awake?

Probably, but not necessarily – some people even fall asleep during the surgery. You are not required to be awake for the operation.

What will I see during surgery?

You may see a bit of light and some vague movement or you may see nothing at all. You will not be able to see what the surgeon is doing to your eye.

Will my eye hurt afterwards?

You may feel a bit of discomfort a few hours after surgery but no pain.

How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?

Your sight will usually recover within days but typically fluctuates for about a month before stabilising. If you notice any significant reduction in your vision, tell your surgeon immediately. The protective shield is usually worn for the first day and your surgeon may also recommend the shield be used for the first few nights after the operation – this is usually the case if you can't stop rubbing your eyes. Cataract surgery does not usually involve stitches.

Normal daily activities such as light housework can be resumed within a couple of days. With routine and successful surgery, patients are usually fit for all physical activities and contact sports one month after cataract surgery – this includes sparring in martial arts.

How long before I can drive a car?

Driving is not recommended for the first few days after surgery to allow your eye to settle.

Can both eyes be operated on at the same time?

It is generally preferable to give the first eye a chance to settle before planning surgery and lens requirements for the second eye. Even though cataract surgery is quite safe, operating on both eyes at the same time may increase the risk of serious complications and visual impairment (e.g. if both eyes were to get infected at the same time). However, there are some rare situations where your surgeon may recommend having both eyes done at one.

When will I get the second eye done?

Your doctor will be able to help you determine when the second eye can be operated on. Although it varies, most surgery is around two weeks apart. In the case of multifocal implants, early second eye surgery hastens the recovery. Patients who are very short- or long-sighted also benefit from both eyes being operated on in quick succession, as it is common that their eyes are now significantly unbalanced. During the period between surgeries, a contact lens may be used to balance the eye that has not yet been operated on.

Will I still need glasses after cataract surgery or lens exchange?

Today's replacement lenses can also be used to correct pre-existing vision problems due to short-sightedness, longsightedness, presbyopia and/or astigmatism. There are different lens options available, and some may allow you to achieve clear vision without glasses. For example, trifocal lenses provide focus at near, intermediate and far distances. These are typically the best option for achieving clear vision without glasses, although there are no guarantees. The most suitable candidates are over 55 years, rely heavily on glasses/contact lenses and are long-sighted. If you are quick to notice visual imperfections, then glasses may remain your best choice.

Speak with your ophthalmologist to find out the best lens option for you. This will depend on your lifestyle, expectations and eye health, and your surgeon will help you understand what you can realistically expect to achieve.

(Video) Cataract and lens replacement day of surgery and postoperative instructions. 1-9-2018

What are the risks?

Cataract surgery is one of the most successful procedures in medicine, so the risk factor is relatively minimal. However, as with any surgery, complications can occur and are related to the procedure itself or to the anaesthesia. Most of the complications from cataract surgery are minor and can be corrected. The success rate is high, with around a 1 in 1000 risk of permanently impaired eyesight.

Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of cataract surgery so that you can make a fully informed decision.

What are the potential complications of cataract and lens surgery?

Posterior capsule opacification (PCO) is the most common potential complication of cataract and lens surgery. PCO can occur when the back of the capsule (housing the lens) thickens. This can cause your vision to appear cloudy but can be treated quickly using a YAG laser outpatient procedure and eye drops.

Also refer to the section 'Potential complications' at the bottom of this page.

(Video) Cataract Surgery | Inside the OR

Does laser cataract surgery cost more?

As with any new technology, laser cataract surgery costs more than traditional cataract surgery. This is due to the operating cost of the laser. We offer laser cataract surgery in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Townsville and Mackay.

Is everyone suitable for laser cataract surgery?

No, there are certain patients that are not suitable. Your surgeon will be able to advise if you are suitable after completing a thorough examination of your eyes.

How is the gap payment for cataract surgery determined?

Some, but not all, of the costs of cataract surgery are covered by Medicare and also by private health insurance (depending on the type of cover you have). The gap payment will depend on several factors, including your level of private health cover and the replacement lens option you choose.

Do you offer payment plans?

Payment plans can be used to access consultations, treatment and surgery at all Vision Eye Institute Clinics and Vision Hospital Group day surgeries.

Vision Eye Institute patients can access a plan to suit their needs through one of the following options.*


  • LatitudePay for services up to $1,000 – interest free, ten weekly payments, no account fees, fast approval

  • LatitudePay+ for services up to $10,000 – interest free, flexible repayment period (6, 12, 18 or 24 months), low monthly account fee, fast approval


*Approved customers only. Full T&Cs apply. Payment plan provided by LatitudePay Australia Pty Ltd ABN 23 633 538 873.

References

For a full list of references, visit the

(Video) Cataract Surgery Animation

Videos

1. Cataract Surgery with a Multifocal Lens
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2. Advances in Cataract Surgery
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3. Multi Focal Lens Implant
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4. Intraocular Lens Options for Cataracts
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5. YAG Capsulotomy After Cataract Surgery
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6. Cataract Surgery with a Monofocal Lens
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