Cataracts are very common, in fact they affect one in three people aged over 65.
However, eye experts are noticing an increase in the number of patients being diagnosed with cataract at an earlier age, even as young as 40.
Also the number of white cataracts being diagnosed at Optegra has doubled in recent times – typically seen in developing countries, these are the most severe type of cataract, where due to lack of treatment the cataract has become opaque, and can cause blindness.
So it’s more important than ever to be aware of the symptoms of cataract – why suffer with compromised vision when it can be treated?
With an increasing number of people experiencing cataract, and waiting lists longer than ever due to the pandemic, we want to ensure that everyone understands the treatment options available – informed choice is essential.
Worryingly, our research shows that 83 per cent of British adults do not even know there are options above and beyond the standard cataract surgery.
As you can only have cataract surgery once, you should carefully consider your options, especially around the advanced intraocular lens (IOL) implant options which can be used instead of a standard lens to improve your vision every day for the rest of your life.
Did you know that if you depend on spectacles or contact lenses, you can correct your day-to-day vision and become spectacle-independent in the same operation as removing your cataract?
But before we look at the options, let’s go back to basics. What exactly is a cataract?
Cataract is a painless clouding of the lens of the eye which develops gradually and results in eyesight deteriorating over time. The only treatment is surgery, otherwise the lens will continue to cloud until it becomes opaque.
What are the symptoms of cataract?
There are a number of symptoms which could indicate that you have cataract in one or both eyes. These include:
- Cloudy vision
- Colours appearing faded
- Glare from bright lights, particularly when driving at night
- Blurred vision
I think I have a cataract – what should I do?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should book an appointment to see your local optometrist as soon as possible – an eye test can confirm the presence of cataract or whether your symptoms are a result of another eye condition. The optometrist will then refer you to an eye health specialist, either on the NHS or a private specialist such as Optegra, who can advise you of the treatment options available.
Optegra treats both NHS patients, providing standard cataract surgery but within weeks, not months – and also private patients with more treatment options.
So what are the treatment options?
Whilst the only treatment for cataract is surgery, technology has advanced to such an extent that there are now a range of lens implants to choose from whether your priority is short, middle or long distance – or any combination of these.
In standard cataract surgery, as offered on the NHS, the natural lens of the eye, which has clouded due to the cataract, is replaced with a monofocal Intraocular Lens (IOL). This clear, permanent artificial lens means any existing or future long or short-sightedness problems will still exist.
Alternatively, patients can ‘upgrade’ and choose refractive cataract surgery, where the replaced lens is one of the most advanced technology lenses available and tailor made to suit your prescription. This can help eliminate dependence on glasses at the same time as removing the cataract.
Try before you buy
From sampling cheese in a food market to test driving the latest car, we Brits love to ‘try before you buy’. Especially ahead of making a significant purchase, many of us like to try the product first to make sure it suits our needs. But how does that work with medical procedures?
Newly launched images from Optegra can help. Patients needing cataract surgery can now gain an understanding of how their vision might look with a standard monofocal lens replacement vs a multifocal lens – indeed, helping them to try before they buy.
To capture vision following cataract surgery with different lenses, these images show vision with a monofocal lens (left) and with a multifocal lens (right):
As a specialist eye hospital group, Optegra Eye Health Care is proud to support the NHS in providing cataract surgery services at our nine major eye hospitals and clinics across the country and helping tackle the large post-Covid waiting lists for eye surgery. This means NHS patients can be referred to an Optegra clinic to be treated within weeks rather than months or even years.
What can I expect in the treatment room?
Whether you opt for standard or refractive surgery, the pain-free procedure is the same and only lasts around 20 minutes. Anaesthetic eye drops numb the eye, then the surgeon removes the natural cloudy lens through a tiny incision and replaces it with a synthetic one.
If you have a cataract or have been advised that there is a long waiting list for surgery, then ask your GP or optometrist if you can be referred to Optegra for treatment. Our specialist consultants will advise you about which option is best for your vision. Visit www.optegra.com for further information.
By Author: Shafiq Rehman
Mr Rehman is a highly acclaimed ophthalmologist with 27 years of experience.