Cataracts

A cataract is clouding of the eye’s natural lens, most commonly due to the normal aging process.

Cataract surgery is the definitive treatment, and involves the removal of a cloudy lens, replacing it with a clear artificial lens (IOL). The procedure is performed in our Day Surgery, takes only a short period of time, and is pain free.

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FAQ’s About Cataracts

  • How will cataract surgery improve my vision?

    With the removal of the cloudy lens, light is no longer blocked or scattered by the cataract, but is focused entirely on the retina. The new intraocular lens (IOL) is specifically calculated and ordered to suit each of your eyes. Its power is specifically chosen to eliminate any unwanted focusing errors you may have. These include short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and astigmatism, for which you may have worn glasses for many years.
  • Intraocular lens selection

    Prior to the operation, we will discuss your visual requirements in detail, and recommend an intraocular lens (IOL) that best meets your expectations, your lifestyle and your visual needs. Given the range of available IOLs, you may wish to wear reading or distance glasses post-operatively, or even to be free from spectacles altogether.

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    After a thorough assessment and guided by your input, we will recommend the best IOL option for you.

  • When is the best time to have cataract surgery?

    Whilst many older individuals have at some stage been told by their eye care provider that they have cataracts, fewer have had a discussion about the best time to have cataract surgery. This discussion not only requires knowledge of a person’s symptoms, but it also requires a detailed understanding of other, sometimes subtle, eye conditions, which may significantly impact on the timing of surgery. Certain conditions affecting the cornea (the eye’s clear window) or some types of glaucoma may dictate earlier cataract surgery than would be warranted if only the patient’s vision was taken into account. Failure to detect these subtle conditions may result in a greater risk of complications if cataract surgery is delayed.

    Cataracts can also affect driving confidence, especially at night when glare and halos from car headlights become significant.  Untreated, the cataract can become dense overtime, impairing vision further and requiring a more complex surgical procedure in the future.

    The timing of cataract development is highly variable in individuals, although most people have a degree of cataract beyond the age of 60. The timing of surgery is also dependent on the individual’s level of function and visual demands. Treatment is recommended when daily tasks like reading, looking at a computer screen or watching TV start to change, affecting your quality of life.

    In elderly patients, the benefits of cataract surgery extend beyond improved vision. Cataract surgery is associated with reduced mortality (likely due to improved confidence and positive mental health effects), as well as reduced risk of falls.

    An ophthalmologist is best placed to advise patients on the timing of surgery, and our eye surgeons offer individualised advice for each patient on the basis of their symptoms, as well as a detailed assessment of their ocular health, which may impact on the timing of cataract surgery done here in Blacktown, for Castle Hill, Parramatta and Western Sydney patients.

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Causes of Cataract

Cataract develops over time as the protein structure in the lens changes with age, becoming discoloured and cloudy. The process usually occurs gradually in both eyes over several years. But in some cases, can occur rapidly.

Cataracts mainly occur in people over the age of 60 years, and the majority of people in this age group have some degree of cataract. Other factors such as a family history of early cataracts, eye trauma, certain medications, diseases like diabetes, exposure to excessive sunlight, smoking and excess alcohol intake can also hasten the development of cataracts.

Rarely, children can also be born with cataracts, known as congenital cataracts.

Symptoms of Cataract

With the development of cataracts, you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Reduced or blurred reading and/or distance vision
  • Poor night vision and susceptibility to glare, affecting driving ability
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Halos and starbursts around lights
  • Dimming of colours
  • Fluctuation in glasses or contact lens prescription
  • Reduced or blurred reading and/or distance vision
  • Poor night vision and susceptibility to glare, affecting driving ability
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Halos and starbursts around lights
  • Dimming of colours
  • Fluctuation in glasses or contact lens prescription
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Assessing for Cataract

Our assessment involves a dilated eye examination and diagnostic scans, if deemed necessary to check the extent of your cataracts and the health of the rest of your eye. We will discuss the timing, benefits and potential risks of surgery in detail. This way you can make an informed decision.

Cataract Surgery

The only treatment option for cataracts is Cataract Surgery. In fact, cataract surgery is the most commonly performed operation in the world today.  The procedure is done under local anaesthetic, and surgery time is typically short, less than 30 minutes.  We do many excellent cataract surgeries here in Blacktown.

The cataract is housed by a fine capsular bag inside the eye. A small ultrasonic probe is inserted into the eye by key hole surgery, and by gentle vibration, it softens and breaks up the cataract. The cataract is then removed in segments, and a new intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted into the original capsular bag. The wounds that are made by the surgeon are tiny and self-sealing, therefore no sutures are required.

Recovery period

Following the surgery, you will have a cover over the eye and will be given eye drops to use post-operatively. Once your eye cover is removed, your vision may already be better, but will continue to improve over the next few days.

The eye may be slightly red from the local anaesthetic, and you may experience sensitivity to light and mild grittiness for the first 24 hours. However, you can return to work and normal activities within a few days.

Don’t struggle with lousy vision, call us today and get the best advice and treatment for your long term eye health.

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