Cataracts

DR LAHOOD IS A SUBSPECIALTY TRAINED CATARACT SURGEON WITH A PATIENT FIRST FOCUS

Ben’s level of expertise in cataract surgery, and his consultative approach, provides his patients the vision they want rather than a one size fits all approach.

All of Ben’s patients are cared for using this philosophy, and he is in regular contact and communication with referring optometrists and GP’s. He uses the latest diagnostic tools, surgical equipment, and modern lens technology to optimise each patient’s individual visual outcome. His practice is always to listen to his patients’ goals and to then strive to provide them with the best visual solution for their individual situation.

Due to his expertise, research, and experience in cataract surgery, Ben is regularly asked to lecture on cataract surgery globally and is often referred unusual or difficult cases by other ophthalmologists due to his individualised approach and experience. He is also a Senior Clinical Lecturer at Adelaide University where he uses his expertise and experience to teach future eye medical professionals.

If you have been referred to Ben for the treatment of your cataracts, you can expect he will conduct a thorough assessment of your eyes and provide a recommendation based on your eye health, lifestyle, and your desired visual outcomes.


WHAT ARE CATARACTS?

A cataract is when the natural lens inside your eye becomes cloudy. This happens to everyone with age and if we all lived long enough we would all get cataracts. When we are young, most of us have nice clear lenses and as we age, the lens gradually becomes denser and harder to see through. When this occurs, the clouding limits and distorts the amount of light passing through the eye to the retina. This reduces visual acuity and can lead to the below symptoms:

  • General blurring or glare
  • Ghosting or multiple images
  • Difficulty reading and writing
  • Difficulty with night vision and driving at night
  • Rapid changes in glasses and contact lens prescription

In their early stages cataracts can be bearable, however, as they progress, they can make a large impact on your vision and lifestyle. Surgery provides an accessible and safe alternative to living with cataracts.


ABOUT CATARACT SURGERY

Cataract surgery is one of the world’s most commonly performed and successful surgeries. Eye surgeons can operate on the eye to remove the cataract and replace it with a clear, personalised lens to restore and in most cases improve vision prior to cataract formation.

Cataract surgery is a day procedure, performed under anaesthetic drops and sedation. Visual recovery depends on age and density of cataract but very often, vision is excellent within the first 48 hours after surgery.

Cataracts are often present in both eyes. Dr LaHood will operate on one eye at a time.

A small incision is created in the cornea and Ben removes the natural, cataract effected lens of the eye, replacing it with an artificial lens. The type of lens used will be discussed with you prior to surgery and will depend on your visual goals. Read more about your lens (IOL) options here.


RECOVERY

Due to its minimally invasive nature, small incision, and the fact that it is a day procedure without the use of general anaesthetic, the rate of recovery differs for each person but in general vision improves over the first 1-3 days.

It is recommended that you have a responsible adult with you for the first 24 hours following surgery. It is also recommended that for the first 1-3 days you take some time to recover and adhere to the following advice:

  • No driving for at least 24-48 hours
  • Showering is fine but avoid direct water or splashing on the eyes for the first 24-48 hours
  • No rubbing your eyes for 3-4 days
  • No swimming, or use of eye makeup or contact sports for 7 days

The day after your surgery you will attend your post-surgical appointment with Ben where he will conduct a thorough assessment of your operative eye. You will also be seen at one week and one month after surgery though these appointments will vary if both eyes are having surgery.

You may experience some visual side effects in the early stages after surgery as detailed below. If these persist past one month, please contact Ben’s clinic.

  • Shimmering
  • Occasional floating spots
  • Blue or pink tinge to colours
  • Fluctuating vision acuity
  • Occasional light flashes
  • Gritty sensation
  • Crescent shaped shadow in peripheral vision

It is also recommended that you visit your optometrist every 1-2 years ongoing to keep up your eye health even if you no longer need glasses after your cataract surgery.


POSSIBLE RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

As with all surgery there are always risks and possible complications that should be considered. Cataract surgery is a safe and common procedure with low risks and 98-99% of people will have no complications following surgery. However, please note the below and do not hesitate to ask Ben about these at your consultation and pre-operative appointments.

  • Elevated eye pressure causing a prolonged recovery time
  • Swelling of the cornea causing prolonger recovery time and possibly requiring further surgery
  • Medication side effects
  • There is a very small risk of serious complications which can permanently affect your vision. These risks include infection and haemorrhage with a risk of 1 in 10,000 eye operations.

FAQ’s

What is a cataract?

A cataract is when the natural lens inside your eye becomes cloudy. This happens to everyone with age and if we all lived long enough we would all get cataracts. When we are young, most of us have nice clear lenses and as we age, the lens gradually becomes denser and harder to see through. When this occurs, we can operate on the eye to remove the cataract and replace it with a nice clear, personalised lens to restore vision and in most cases improve on the vision prior to cataract formation.

What causes cataracts?

There are a number of possible causes of cataracts. The most common are:

  • The natural ageing process
  • Hereditary factors
  • Prolonged exposure to UV light
  • Diseases such as diabetes
  • Long-term use of some medications (particularly steroids)
  • Eye trauma
  • Smoking

Is my cataract ready for surgery?

As a cataract gradually changes there is no definite point in time when you can say that the lens is now cloudy enough to remove. Like all surgical decisions, it is a balance between risk and benefit of performing an operation. Cataract surgery is extremely safe and has excellent outcomes, but you do not want to have an operation if you are happy with your current vision or you are happy with your glasses or contact lenses.

When you feel that either your vision is not as good as you would like, or you would like to stop wearing glasses, or you are tired of putting reading glasses on and off, that is the time to come and see whether cataract surgery would be suitable for you.

Is cataract surgery a day procedure?

Cataract surgery is a day procedure and usually done in a day hospital or day clinic environment. If you are having this procedure you will not need to stay overnight and will only be at the centre for a few hours.

Do I need to wear glasses after cataract surgery?

The short answer is no.

The slightly longer answer is that it is up to you and this is one of the important things you will discuss with Ben before your surgery. We now have the ability to give you any type of vision you may want, including multifocal vision so that you can read, use the computer, drive and play sport all without glasses. However, if you quite like your glasses or using reading glasses or your profession requires a certain level of vision then that is also achievable. This broad range of flexible and available options is a passion of Ben’s and provides you the power of choice.

Will my cataract come back?

Fortunately for you, no, your cataract cannot grow back again. When Ben removes the cataract, he leaves the new lens in a capsule that was holding your lens in place. It is a very thin capsule. Over time, in a proportion of people, this layer can become a little cloudy. Should this occur, there is a very quick and simple laser procedure that can be done in the office to clear this.

Does cataract surgery hurt?

No, the eye itself receives drops to numb any sensation and sometimes further anaesthetic can be applied around the eye if needed. A lot of patients also like to have a little light sedation so that they feel calm. Most patients actually fall asleep during surgery with this sedation and are surprised how quickly everything is finished.

When can I drive, go back to work and start normal activities after surgery?

Recovery is typically fast, and vision improves quickly over a 24-72 hour period. This means you can return to normal activities when you feel comfortable to do so. Common sense should be used and watching TV, moderate exercise and reading is the first step. It is recommended that you don’t drive for at least the first 24 hours and that swimming, contact sports, wearing eye makeup, and time spent in dusty environments is avoided for the first 3-5 days.

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