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A cataract is an eye condition that prevents light rays entering your eye. Gradually, your vision will become blurred, until the whole lens clouds over. One of the best ways to detect cataracts is during a routine eye test - it is important to have one regularly so any symptoms can be picked up at the earliest opportunity and you can be referred to an eye specialist.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye. Your lens sits just behind your iris, the coloured part of your eye. Normally your lens is clear and helps to focus the light entering your eye. Developing cataracts will cause your sight to become cloudy and misty. Cataracts can affect one or both eyes. Cataracts are treated by surgery, during which the cloudy lens is removed and replaced by an artificial lens.

Cataracts result from changes in the way the cells of the lens are arranged and their water content, which causes the lens to become cloudy instead of clear. When this happens, light cannot pass directly through the lens and you may notice problems with your vision. A cataract is not a growth or a film growing over the eye; it is simply the lens becoming cloudy.

Developing cataracts is a normal part of growing older. Most people start to develop cataracts after the age of 65, but some people in their forties and fifties can also develop cataracts. Certain things make it more likely that you will develop cataracts:

• Diabetes – people who have diabetes often develop cataracts earlier.

• Trauma – having an eye injury can cause the injured eye to develop a cataract.

• Medications – some prescription drugs can cause cataracts, for example steroids.

• Eye surgery – surgery for a retinal problem will likely lead to cataracts in the affected eye at some point in the future.

• Eye conditions – other eye conditions, such as retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma or uveitis, may also cause cataracts.

• Having high myopia (being very short sighted) may cause cataracts.

Cataracts caused by aging, medications and other eye conditions usually develop in both eyes. Cataracts caused by an eye injury or eye surgery only develop in the affected eye. Despite the different causes, most cataracts are dealt with using the same type of surgery.

Cataracts normally develop very slowly. At first, the changes they make to your sight may be difficult to notice, but as they get worse you’ll start to notice symptoms such as:

  • You feel like your glasses are dirty and need cleaning.
  • Your sight is misty and cloudy.
  • You’re more sensitive to bright light or may find it difficult to see in dim light.
  • Everything looks a little more washed out than it should be.
  • You may have double vision.
  • You may see circles of light around bright lights, such as car headlights.

Eventually, almost all people with cataracts will find that their sight has turned misty or cloudy, and things have become difficult to see all of the time. Cataracts sometimes develop so slowly that you might not notice the changes in your vision, but when you have your regular eye test, your optometrist (also known as an optician) may detect them and refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist)

Cataracts can be removed at any stage. You don’t have to wait for them to “ripen” before having surgery. Making the decision to have your cataracts removed depends on a number of things:

  • how badly your sight is affected
  • whether you have any other eye conditions
  • if you only have sight in one eye
  • how you use your sight from day to day

Sometimes surgery is needed to treat glaucoma, especially when eye drops are ineffective at bringing the eye pressure down. The way we treat glaucoma has been revolutionised over recent years and a brand of surgery, called Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS) is now available at The McIndoe Centre. As the name itself suggests, these surgeries are minimally invasive and have an excellent safety profile and are very effective at lowering the pressure in the eye. In addition, MIGS can easily be combined with cataract surgery which patients often have at the same time as glaucoma.

Cataract surgery removes your natural lens and replaces it with an artificial lens. The type of lens you have will vary depending on your unique needs. During this procedure (phacoemulsification) local anaesthetic eye drops will be used around the eye to numb the outer surface. In some cases, a local anaesthetic injection might be used, or indeed a combination of drops and injection.

Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, the surgeon will make a small incision at the edge of the cornea (the clear part at the front of your eye) and use ultrasound energy to break up the lens and remove it using suction. These fragments will then be removed through the cut made in your eye. A tiny artificial lens implant is folded so that it can be inserted into your eye, this lens unfolds within the eye and is held in place by the lens capsule.

Cataract surgery is usually a very straightforward procedure that takes around 30 minutes and is a day case procedure which means you can go home the next day.

Most people recover very quickly following cataract surgery and you may feel back to normal the day after your operation. Some people might feel more tired than usual after the surgery, but after a few days you’ll start to feel back to normal.

When you take the dressing off your eye, you may notice your vision is brighter and maybe clearer than it was before the operation. You might notice this change straight away as soon as you remove the dressing, but it may also take a couple of days for your sight to improve. Within two to five days, your eye should be feeling normal and the cloudiness caused by your cataract should be improved.

Signs that you need to see a specialist:

  • Your sight is misty or cloudy (milky).
  • You may feel like your glasses need cleaning but they’re actually clean.
  • You’re more sensitive to bright light.
  • You find it difficult to see in dim light.
  • Colours are faded and everything looks a little washed out.
  • You may be experiencing double vision or see circles of light around bright lights (headlights for example).

Cataracts are not painful, develop slowly and at first may be unnoticeable. This is why it is so important to attend regular eye tests, especially if you are more at risk of developing cataracts.

Case Studies

Mike Brazier

After becoming increasingly frustrated at the deterioration in his vision, Mike consulted with an Optometrist who told him cataracts were developing in both eyes and that he would need surgery soon.

Find Out More

Chris Briggs

Chris bought the motorbike in February to mark his landmark 60th birthday but knew that riding it would be limited until he underwent two cataract operations to improve his vision.

Find Out More


Please call 0800 917 4922 or submit a contact form here for more information or to book an appointment.

*It is important to note that these prices are just a guide and treatment costs will vary according to the lens you need. The full pricing options are usually sent out following the consultation.

Treatment Stage Consultant Fees Hospital Fees
Standard lens * Standard toric lens*
Initial Consultation £110.00
Pre-op Diagnostics £150.00 £150.00
Main treatment £2,500.00 £2,850.00
Post-discharge care Included Included
Subtotals £110.00 £2,650.00 £3,000.00
Total £2,760.00 £3,110.00
Cost per eye

Last updated: 31/01/2019

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