Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosing a cataract

Cataract is often diagnosed in primary care by an optician or GP during a routine eye examination.

At your initial appointment with Moorfields, you will undergo eye tests and an optometrist will assess your eye prescription. A full medical history will also be taken to ensure you are suitable for treatment.

Treatment for cataract

The most common cataracts treatment is a refractive lens exchange operation to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear artificial replacement. This treatment is quick, taking between 30-60 minutes, and can greatly improve vision.

Laser cataract surgery

If you decide with your consultant surgeon to have laser cataract surgery (also know as femto-phako) your consultant will use femtosecond laser to partially breakdown the cataract. Removal of the cataract then proceeds as for conventional (non-laser) cataract surgery, with a clear artificial lens (intraocular lens implant or IOL), made of a plastic-like material, placed inside the eye. Current available evidence shows that both conventional and laser cataract surgery are as good as each other in terms of vision and safety.

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Multifocal lenses

NHS cataract surgery includes a standard monofocal lens. If you would like a multifocal lens, you can choose to have your cataract surgery privately

Private cataract surgery

After cataract surgery

You will be given instructions for your cataract surgery aftercare following your operation, including information regarding follow-up appointments.

Cataract surgery recovery times are different for every person. Usually, there is a fairly quick recovery time for cataract surgery, approximately 3-4 days.

During your cataract surgery recovery, it is normal for your vision to take a few days to improve. Your eyes may additionally be sore, scratchy and light sensitive during this period. You will have both antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops to help with your cataract operation recovery, typically starting the day after surgery. Cataract surgery is performed on a day-care basis. This means you are admitted to hospital, have your operation and are discharged home all in the same day. Therefore, you should be able to return to work a few days after your operation, depending on your occupation. If you perform a job that is physically demanding, you may require a longer period of recovery. Your consultant will advise you appropriately.

When it comes to cataracts and driving, you can drive after your operation once you vision meets the DVLA requirements. This normally takes 3-4 days. The DVLA standard is reading a number plate with both eyes open at 20.5 meters (approximately 25 strides). Your consultant can advise you at your follow-up appointment if your vision meets this standard.

Can cataracts come back?

Once the cloudy (cataractous) lens has been removed as part of cataract surgery, it doesn’t come back. However, the thin membrane behind the new lens implant (posterior capsule) may become opaque during the first few months or years after cataract surgery. This creates a filter-effect and can cause your vision to deteriorate. A simple laser treatment (YAG laser capsulotomy) can be performed in the outpatient clinic to clear this membrane and restore clear vision. Approximately 1 in 5 (20%) patients may benefit from YAG laser capsulotomy after cataract surgery. Your consultant will discuss whether this treatment is suitable for you.

Cataract treatment is available at Moorfields Private

You can self-fund or use private medical insurance to fund your treatment.

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