Use the link below to jump to the following sections;
What is a cataract?
The crystalline lens of the eye functions similarly to a lens in a camera, it focuses light on the retina (which acts like film in a camera). A healthy lens is analogous to a clean window, it transmits light well. When you have a cataract, the lens becomes yellow and opacified, somewhat like a dirty window or frosted glass, the light is scattered causing glare and blurred vision. Cataracts are very common, becoming more frequent with increasing age.
Symptoms of Cataract;
Cataracts can only be treated with surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the most common and successful operations performed. Cataract surgery is usually performed under topical anaesthesia, that is, with eye-drops and intravenous medication, the patient being awake however sedated. We try to avoid injections around the eye or general anaesthesia. However the anaesthesia selected is always tailored to the specific needs of the patient. We will of course take into account your personal preference and concerns when deciding what type of anaesthesia is appropriate.
Cataract surgery is ‘microsurgery’, performed under an operating microscope. The incisions are tiny, the largest being 2.25 mm. The procedure involves removing the cataractous lens and replacing it with a new artificial intra-ocular lens (usually an acrylic material). Post operatively there is usually no or minimal discomfort. Patients usually can resume most activities, such as driving, the next day. Cataract surgery is successful in 99% of patients, serious complications are rare.
Will I need to wear glasses after cataract surgery?
If you are going to have cataract surgery you will need to consider the choice of lenses available.
There is considerable choice available and of course this will be guided by your desire to be spectacle independent and your visual requirements. Of course if you like your current refraction we can always maintain this.
What if I want to be independent of distance and reading glasses?
Modern intra-ocular lenses will certainly improve your vision post cataract surgery however unfortunately it is currently not possible to return your vision to the way it was in your 20s. However we certainly have various options available to reduce your reliance on distance and reading spectacles.
The most commonly used intraocular lens is the ‘monofocal’ lens, it only focuses for one distance. However the two eyes can be given two different focal points, one for distance and one for intermediate or near. The aim of this technique is to decrease the reliance on distance and reading glasses.
Multifocal/bifocal intraocular lenses work by splitting the light entering your eye and focusing them in different sites. The aim of these lenses is to reduce the reliance on distance and reading glasses. The vision achieved is a compromise, the quality of the vision is not quite as good as that achieved with a monofocal lens, however both eyes are focused for both near and distance. It is very common for patients to notice halos around car headlights at night, however these improve over several months. A small percentage of patients (approximately 5%) cannot tolerate the optics of the lens and require a lens exchange at a later date.
Our ophthalmologists will be happy to discuss the best option for you.
Where Is Cataract Surgery Performed?
Dr Spencer performs cataract surgery at the Manningham Day Procedure centre in Bulleen.
This is a modern facility with the latest technology and equipment and caters specifically for ophthalmic surgery.
Manningham Day Procedure Centre
Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery
Standard cataract surgery involves performing all steps of the surgery manually by the surgeon. This technique achieves excellent results and is currently the gold standard in cataract surgery. Since late 2011 laser technology has become available in Australia that allows the first 1/3 of the procedure to be performed with a femtosecond laser. Of course the incisions and steps of the procedure performed by the laser are more precise, laser surgery certainly offers a theoretical benefit. Laser assisted surgery involves additional cost which is not covered by your health insurance or Medicare. Dr Spencer is able to offer this option to her patients and is happy to discuss it.
Glaucoma is the commonest cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. The risk of glaucoma increases with age. If you have a first degree member of your family afflicted with glaucoma you have an 8 fold increased risk of developing the disease. Glaucoma is a progressive condition that affects the health of the optic nerve, the greatest risk factor for glaucoma is elevated intra-ocular pressure. Untreated glaucoma results in progressive loss of vision. There are two main types of glaucoma –primary open angle glaucoma and angle closure glaucoma.
There are three treatment options available for glaucoma which include;
The Heidelberg Eye Clinic offers all treatment options for glaucoma.