What are Cataracts?
At birth, a properly developed eye contains a clear lens inside, situated just behind the coloured iris. The purpose of this lens is to control the focus of light entering the eye in such a way that it can fall onto the retina at the back of the eye and form a clear image. A cataract occurs when the lens inside the eye loses its transparency and develops opacities; for the vast majority of those with cataracts, this is a natural and expected occurrence with age. Almost everyone who reaches the end of their natural life expectancy will have developed some degree of cataract.
Cataracts may also be caused by other factors such as eye trauma, infection, certain systemic diseases, the use of some medications, and inherited or developmental abnormalities.
Because vision relies on the clear transmission of light through the structures at the front of the eye, any cloudiness or opacity of the lens along this route can degrade the quality of the image, resulting in blurry or hazy vision.
Cataracts are considered a benign condition. Though your sight may be affected from the cataract, the cataract itself will not cause permanent loss of vision – once you undergo successful surgery and removal of these lens opacities, your sight is expected to be restored to the level of clarity you once experienced years ago, prior to the development of the cataract. Cataract surgery is, in Melbourne and throughout the Western world, the most common surgical procedure performed.
What are the Symptoms of Cataract?
In the early stages of cataract development, very few people realise that any changes are occurring in the eye. Cataracts are not painful or physically irritating and you cannot typically see them by looking into a mirror.
If you experience one or more of the following symptoms, you may be developing cataract:
Blurry or cloudy vision
As Cataracts develops, the vision you experience will progressively lose its clarity. Patients can describe this vision as hazy, filmy, or like looking through a dirty window.
The opacities of a cataract can cause light entering the eye to scatter, which is perceived as glare. This glare can range from a mild annoyance to debilitating light sensitivity in the presence of car headlights and street lights when driving at night.
Difficulties with vision in low light conditions
Cataracts can cause an increased difficulty with vision in low contrast lighting conditions. For example, you may find you now require much brighter light when reading indoors or at night or feel less confident driving during dusk, dawn, or very cloudy and rainy conditions.
Some patients may report seeing double image of one object due to the presence of cataract. This is a less frequently reported symptom of cataract and patients often find the sensation dissipates as the cataract progresses.
Alteration to colour vision
A common form of cataract known as nuclear sclerosis causes the lens inside the eye to slowly change from clear and transparent to yellow/brown, which can alter your colour vision. While most patients are not aware of this colour perception change as it occurs so slowly, it can bother those who require very good colour vision for their vocation or hobbies, such as visual artists or those who assess meats and fresh produce.
Frequent prescription changes
The development of cataract can often alter the refractive index of the lens, which translates to needing an updated prescription in your spectacles or contact lenses. Interestingly, as nuclear sclerosis causes a shift in the script towards short-sightedness, some patients will find their reading vision without glasses actually improves; unfortunately, this is at the expense of distance vision, which they find is progressively deteriorating.
When is it Time to have Cataract Surgery?
Melbourne is fortunate to have access to many dedicated cataract surgeons. At Eye Laser Specialists we employ the latest innovations in cataract surgery technology to provide you with high quality expert care before, during and after your procedure.
In consultation with your eye care professional, the best person to decide when you’re ready to have cataract surgery is you. Consider what you use your vision for and whether your current vision is satisfactory for your work and hobbies. VicRoads also stipulates specific visual requirements to maintain a driving licence in Melbourne, so cataract surgery is indicated for those who fall outside of these requirements.
Am I Suitable for Cataract Surgery?
Though the great majority of patients with cataract are suitable to have it removed, other factors must be taken into consideration before entering the surgical theatre. A consultation with the experienced clinicians at Eye Laser Specialists can determine if treatment at our Eye Spa for pre-existing dry eye is recommended prior to undergoing surgery, or whether your vision is not likely to be significantly improved with cataract extraction, such as in the case of other visually significant eye diseases.
Book your initial assessment at Eye Laser Specialists now on 1300 297 583
What Happens Once I’ve Decided to Have Surgery?
An important part of the pre-operation consultation with your ophthalmologist is choosing the lens implant. Technology has advanced to the point to allow us to offer lens implants that can correct for distance, intermediate and near vision with the use of multifocal (MF) and extended depth of focus (EDoF) intraocular lenses, reducing your dependency on glasses and contact lenses after surgery. We will also discuss with you any risks or complications you should be aware of prior to surgery.
Surgery is performed under local anaesthetic, though a light sedation can be offered for anxious patients. An ultrasound probe is inserted into the eye via a very small incision in the cornea to break up the cataract, which is then removed from the eye and a clear surgical-grade plastic lens is put in its place.
The operation is typically performed on one eye at a time and takes around half an hour. A protective shield will be placed over the eye and you will be given a regimen of post-operative drops to aid healing. Your vision will likely be blurry for a couple of days immediately after surgery but is expected to clear rapidly thereafter.
What does Cataract Surgery Cost in Melbourne?
The total cost of cataract surgery for our Melbourne practice includes hospital admission, the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist and cost of the chosen lens implant. After your initial assessment with our clinicians, a comprehensive quote can be provided.
Costs of cataract surgery throughout Melbourne and Australia can be reduced with an appropriate level of private health insurance.
Book your initial assessment at Eye Laser Specialists now on 1300 297 583.
How is Refractive Lens Exchange Different from Cataract Surgery?
Refractive lens exchange is exactly the same as a cataract extraction procedure except it is performed prior to a cataract developing. It is an excellent option for those over 50 years old who are not suitable for corneal refractive procedures such as LASIK or SMILE® but wish to be spectacle and contact lens free. An acrylic lens replaces the natural lens of the eye and can be arranged such as to provide generous vision at all distances without glasses.
If you simply want to be glasses-free or if you think it’s time for cataract surgery, call our Melbourne rooms now on 1300 297 583 to book an initial appointment with our dedicated clinicians.