Bright Sight

Oliver Backhouse, Consultant Eye Surgeon*

What are Cataracts?

A cataract is a natural clouding of the lens of your eye. It is rather like a ‘bubbly bathroom window’ – it is difficult to see out of. There is no medicine, laser or eye drops that can make it better. If you want to see brighter and more sharply then a cataract operation will be necessary. The right time to have cataract surgery is when you feel the risks of the operation are outweighed by the benefits. Cataract symptoms include: glare, dazzle, halos, blurred dim vision and occasionally double vision.

A cataract operation is done under local anaesthetic as day case surgery – so you arrive and go home the same day. General anaesthesia, where you are asleep, is also used in some cases. The operation involves going inside the eye to remove the cloudy lens (the cataract) and replacing it with a clear acrylic one that stays in the eye permanently. Because it is necessary to go inside the eye there is the possibility of introducing infection. This is not very good news but thankfully rare (less than 1 case in 1,000). My continuous personal audit of my cataract surgery shows no operative complication in over 99% with serious complication of under 0.5%. Usually only one eye is operated on at a time.

After the operation the eye may feel gritty for a few days which is normal. The best vision comes after a few weeks when the eye has settled down. It is at this time that new glasses can be got. You can wear you old glasses in the meantime but the prescription will be wrong for you and so blur the vision. Wearing your old glasses will not harm the operated eye. There are no hard rules regarding driving but it seems sensible not to drive for several days so the eye can settle. Normal car driving vision is being able to read the number plate at a distance of 67 feet. A standard lens used has a focus at a particular point so in order to see in the distance and near glasses will be needed. Use of a multifocal lens such as the Lentis Comfort lens can remove the need for glasses for most activities.

If your cataract is due to inflammation please refer to the patient information leaflet on Cataract Surgery and Uveitis. Further information is under Frequently Asked Questions.

blurred landscape


sharp landscape


Eye drops only for Anaesthetic

My preferred way of performing cataract surgery is using eye drops only as anaesthesia. This removes the worry of sharp needles around the eye and has the benefit of faster recovery. Also no shield is needed following the operation.

No need for glasses after

It is now also possible in most cases to use a special lens that allows you to see both for distance and near without the need / or little need for glasses. This is a new technique using an Accommodating Lens or Multifocal Lens and they are producing exciting results. Some of these special lenses can also treat Astigmatism.

Long or shortsighted

With the safety of lens surgery now it is possible to accurately correct long and shortsight with a lens implant. This involves no laser and will produce a permanent result unlike laser surgery.