Unveiling the truth about cataracts

New research shows that the British population are unclear about the symptoms of one of the most common eye conditions and are delaying treatment due to a number of unfounded myths. Not least a real concern that the eyeball has to be removed!

In fact a medical study has revealed that 88 per cent of people with cataracts were not receiving treatment or even in touch with eye health specialists[i].

Latest research[ii], undertaken for Optegra eye hospital group, shows that while 63 per cent of British adults state they know what a cataract is, when questioned, they in fact incorrectly believe that it is:
  • Scarring of the eye
  • A film over the eye
  • Skin growing over the eye
  • An infection of the eye

In addition, the research revealed that:
  • Only a quarter (25 per cent) of adults recognised that one of the main symptoms of a cataract is glare from lights
  • Only 26 per cent realised that it is more difficult to see in the dark if you have cataracts

Leading eye hospital group, Optegra, believes these myths are misleading and putting people off transformative surgery.

Common queries at consultations include patients believing their cataract has to be ‘ripe’ to be removed or that a cataract procedure is complicated with a long recovery period – the procedure is in fact very quick and straightforward. They even believe that the eyeball has to be taken out to treat a cataract.

Sundeep Kheterpal, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon and cataract specialist for Optegra explains: “The problem with these myths is that people are literally putting off a straight-forward, brief and painless procedure which can make a huge difference to their vision.

“Some people are being instructed that their cataract is not ready yet – suggesting it has to be ‘ripe’ to be removed. This leads to months and sometimes years of putting up with cloudy or blurred vision. Cataract surgery can be done at any stage if an individual is noticing visual problems affecting their lifestyle. We want people to avoid living in a cloudy, hazy world when they simply don’t need to.”

Another common misconception is that people think they will no longer need glasses after cataract surgery but this is not true. A traditional cataract procedure, replaces the cloudy lens with a basic clear ‘monofocal’ lens which usually provides corrected distance vision but patients will often still need reading glasses for close up work.  However, patients have the option to choose an upgraded multifocal lens available via private eye hospitals which may lead to a life with reduced dependency on glasses.

Clarivu™ is the Optegra brand name for its individually tailored, consultant-led vision correction (or Refractive Lens Exchange – RLE) package.  Clarivu is permanent lens replacement where an advanced intraocular lens (IOL) specially selected for the individual patient’s visual and lifestyle needs will remove the cataract and could eliminate or reduce your dependence on glasses.

Angie Driscoll, from Hayling Island, recently had Clarivu permanent lens replacement at Optegra Solent Eye Hospital and didn’t even realise she had cataracts until she had a consultation. She says, “I was starting to have difficulty reading number plates and I wanted to be able to drive and read without glasses. During my first consultation at Optegra I was told I had cataracts but they could easily be removed as part of the procedure. If I had realised how easy, quick and simple it was then I would have had it done a long time ago. I now have the sight I had as a child!”

Myth busting

Leading ophthalmic experts at Optegra specialist eye hospital group dispel the myths around cataracts:

Myth: You have to wait for your cataract to be ‘ripe’ to remove it
FALSE.  You can have a cataract removed as soon as it is diagnosed that the symptoms are affecting your lifestyle. Avoiding delay means that vision can be restored sooner rather than later, and before your cataract is seriously affecting your day to day activities and driving.

Myth: A cataract is a film which grows across the surface of the eye
FALSE. In fact a cataract is the clouding of the lens within the eye, rather than something that grows across it.  It is a very common condition expected to affect one in three people aged over 65 years[iii].

Myth: I can still drive safely with cataracts
FALSE. As the nights draw in more and more people with cataracts will notice strong glare from car lights, faded colours and cloudy vision, which can make driving more dangerous.  In fact this is a key time for people to be diagnosed, so if you are noticing these symptoms it may be worth a visit to your optician, optometrist or local eye hospital.

Myth: I will still need to wear glasses after my cataract op
TRUE. If you were wearing glasses for near and far vision before your cataract developed, you will probably still need to wear them after your procedure.
HOWEVER, outside of the NHS, you can ‘upgrade’ from a monofocal lens to a multifocal lens – such as Optegra’s ClarivuTM  refractive lens exchange package – and have an opportunity to improve your near or far vision at the same time as removing your cataract. It is the exact same procedure, but with a more advanced lens.

Myth: I have to wait for the NHS to treat my cataracts
FALSE. There has been much talk about the long waiting lists for treatment of cataracts. You can visit a private eye hospital, such as Optegra, which has six hospitals throughout the UK, to have quick, precise and professional treatment at a time that suits you and with the reassurance of a consultant ophthalmic surgeon every step of the journey.

Myth: Cataract surgery is complicated and means an overnight stay in hospital
FALSE.  With the skills of the surgeon and the latest technology, this can be a straightforward, painless procedure for the patient and is treated as a day case. And no, the eye ball is not removed as some people think! The eye is gently held open and the procedure is typically performed with local anaesthetic eye drops and can take less than 20 minutes per eye.  As such it is the most commonly performed elective procedure in the world[iv].

Optegra’s cataract surgery

Optegra offers treatment with the very latest technology, ensuring precise and accurate cataract treatment with lenses tailored for your own eyes.

Femtosecond laser technology is used as part of the cataract or Clarivu package because it is proven, precise and tailored specifically for individual eyes.  Femtosecond laser technology allows the surgeon to precisely place laser pulses that effectively soften the lens for removal and ensure the appropriate condition for the optimum lens placement, helping to restore vision and eliminate any existing cataract.

To find out more please visit www.optegra.com or contact Optegra on Tel: 0800 358 0825.

 

[i] Minassian DC, Reidy A, Desai P, Farrow S, Vafidis G, Minassian A. The deficit in cataract surgery in England and Wales and the escalating problem of visual impairment: epidemiological modelling of the population dynamics of cataract. Br J Ophthalmol 2000;84:4-8.
[ii]  Research conducted for Optegra by Censuswide in July 2014 with 2,103 British adults aged over 16 years.  Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.
[iii] As cited in the RCOphth document ‘Cataract surgery guidelines’ Sept 2010.
[iv] ‘HESonline. Main procedures and interventions: 2000-2008. http://www.hesonline.nhs.uk/Ease/servlet/ContentServer?siteID=1937&categoryID=215 2009.’  As cited in http://www.rcophth.ac.uk/page.asp?section=451

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