As we grow older, the lens dulls and increases its cloudiness. It may develop various imperfections over many years, which may limit eye sight. This is called a ‘cataract’.
Your doctor can monitor the progress of your cataracts, and help with advice as to the most appropriate time for surgery.
Your decision to have surgery depends on how much you feel the cataracts are interfering with your normal way of life and whether or not they are preventing you from doing things you like or need to do.
For some people, even a slight loss of vision is unacceptable. They like to sew, read or drive, and the decision to operate may come early. Others may choose not to have surgery because cataracts do not seriously interfere with their lives.
Age is not a bar to cataract surgery.
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When to Operate
The decision to have surgery is reached by you and your doctor together. Its is based on your personal needs and your doctors recommendation about the best time for surgery.
The cataract is usually removed by a small incision made in the outer white coating of the eye (the sclera) or through the cornea (clear corneal incision). You can see how this occurs by looking at Videos.
Most cataract operations are done under local anaesthetic, although general anaesthetic is sometimes used. The advantages of local anaesthetic are that the patient feels more alert sooner. Patients may have a general anaesthetic if they wish and are suitable medically. The choice of the type of anaesthetic used, is made between you, the anaesthetist and your doctor.
The surgery usually lasts about half an hour and you are usually only in hospital for a few hours. Hospitalisation overnight is not necessary.
Patients are advised of all costs involved in the procedure including hospital costs at their consultation. For those patients who do not have private health insurance Medicare will contribute towards some of the doctor’s fee. Any concerns in relation to fees and charges can be discussed with our Reception Staff who will only be too pleased to help you.
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The treatment for cataracts is the surgical removal of the clouded lens. The eye, however cannot focus without a lens, so vision will be indistinct unless some device is employed to take the place of the missing lens. Since about 1980, we have achieved this by inserting a plastic lens into the eye (intraocular lens).
Frequently Asked Questions
- How to place drops and ointment in someone else’s eyes
Ask the person requiring the drops to tilt his/her head back and look towards their eyebrows.
Gently pinch a little skin beneath the lower eyelid, between your thumb and index finger. Pull forward and down very gently; this will create a little pocket.
Bring the dropper toward the eye from the patients chin; this will reduce flinching.
Place the drops into the created pocket of skin.
As soon as the drops are in, release the lower fold and ask the patient to close the eyes gently.
- Tell me more about the ointment
Ointments can be applied using the same technique as for drops.
Using the pocket technique, apply approximately 1cm of ointment just inside the lower lid.
Ask the patient to close the eye and gently look up, down and sideways whilst the eye is closed. This will distribute the ointment.
- How do I apply my own drops and ointments?
Stand in front of a mirror; some individuals find that being side on to the mirror provides a slightly better angle.
Using the pinch and pocket technique, apply the drops and ointment.
Release the pocket and close the eye.
Note: it is extremely important to wash your hands before and after applying medication to the eyes.
- When should I use my eye drops?
Eye drops are usually used for 4 weeks after cataract surgery. Drops are usually tapered from four times a day down to once a day before being stopped. Spread the drops out evenly throughout the day during waking hours only. You do not need to use drops in the middle of the night. When you go out, you should take your drops with you so that you can continue to use them as prescribed. Also, we suggest you always use your eye drops as prescribed before you visit your eye specialist, or your own doctor, unless they tell you otherwise for that particular visit.
- What happens if a drop is forgotten?
For most drops, it will not matter if you put an extra one in during the day. Thus, if you have a missed drop, you should use one immediately unless the next scheduled drop is nearly due, in which case it can be left out.
- I have been prescribed to use different types of eye drops. Do I put them in together, or wait before putting in the second type of eye drop?
Ideally, you should wait 5-10 minutes between drops so that your eye can have maximum benefit from the drops.
- If one is uncertain whether the drop went into the eye, should another be used?
Yes, it should. By keeping the drops in the fridge you can be more certain of feeling the drops on your eye by a cold sensation.
- How long will the drops last?
In general, once a bottle of eye drops has been opened, it should be discarded four weeks later, even if there are still some drops remaining in the bottle. Fortunately, this fits in with the usual drop schedule following cataract surgery. Drops are usually required for 4 weeks and are usually tapered from four times a day down to once a day.
You should always carefully follow the doctor’s instructions and read the package insert supplied by the manufacturers. This will often point to side effects and problems with using other drugs, which you may have forgotten to tell your eye specialist or family doctor about. Please contact your doctor immediately and give full details of the other drugs you are using if problems occur.