A cataract is a progressive clouding of the eye's natural lens that interferes with light passing through to the retina. The lens is responsible for focusing light and producing a clear image on the retina at the back of the eye. When the lens develops opacity, light cannot pass to the retina and the resulting image appears blurred or "cloudy" - similar to looking through a dirty window!
Cataracts are a natural part of ageing and are the leading cause of vision loss among adults 55 years and older. They can also exist at birth (congenital cataract), be caused by an injury (tramatic cataract), some medications, or be caused by conditions like diabetes or severe glaucoma. The vast majority of people with cataracts are healthy and have no other eye disease. Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, although not always at the same rate. Their rate of development will vary from person to person, but generally develop slowly. Occasionally the effect on vision, however, can be faster, occurring over a period of several weeks.
Although there is currently no medical treatment to reverse or prevent the development of cataracts, they can be safely and successfully removed.
The cataract assessment is a thorough eye examination which includes testing vision and examining the front and back of your eye to assess overall eye health. After the assessment is complete, we will discuss with you your treatment options. If your cataracts need to be removed surgically, you will need to have measurements taken of your eye to help with surgical planning.
Cataract surgery is performed in our on site operating theatre. Surgery is performed under a local anaesthetic and sedation can be given if you are feeling anxious about the procedure.
Once the eye is numb, a small incision is made into the perimeter of the eye. This incision (which is self-sealing) creates a small tunnel through which the cataract is removed.
The cataract is removed by phacoemulsification. This uses ultrasound energy to break up a cataract into microscopic pieces, which are emulsified and gently removed. This method of cataract removal is considered the least traumatic to the eye.
Once the cataract has been removed, the artificial intraocular lens is implanted in the same capsule which once housed the natural lens (cataract) of the eye. This intraocular lens is specially chosen for your eye so that the focus and clarity is restored.