Don't let cataracts cloud your vision this Cataract Awareness Month

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One in three of us will experience cataracts at some point in our lives and while treatment is readily available and hugely successful, there are still a few myths surrounding the condition. That’s why Optegra Eye Clinic Newcastle is supporting June’s Cataract Awareness Month with a handy guide providing practical advice to help more people achieve the clear vision they deserve.

Firstly, what exactly is a cataract? Cataracts form over time as the natural lens of the eye hardens with age, leaving you with cloudy or blurred vision, faded colours, particularly poor vision at night and problems with glare from bright lights like car headlights.

Many people do not realize they have cataracts initially as it only affects part of the lens, but over time the cataract gets larger and your lens becomes increasingly cloudy.

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What causes cataract? From age to eczema to diabetes or eye injury – there are many possible causes for cataract. But the number one cause is age!

What happens during cataract surgery? Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure, with over 330,000 cases performed each year in England alone. Drops are used to numb the eye before a tiny incision is made to remove the cloudy lens, replacing it with a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL). This is the only treatment and without it, severe or ‘white’ cataracts can lead to loss of sight - globally, 20 million people are blind due to cataracts.

How long does cataract surgery take? Usually just 10-15 minutes per eye and it is a painless procedure conducted as a day case.

Can I do anything to help prevent cataract? Try eating foods high in Vitamin C, like citrus fruit, to help delay the onset of cataract. Also, wear sunglasses with UV protection to shield eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays and reduce alcohol intake.

Cataract surgery can be truly life changing – here’s how!

“Cataract surgery has helped on my road to rehabilitation”

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Following a devastating brain injury in 2022, Khalid Fazil was told that his cataract was developing more quickly than anticipated, most likely due to the head impact. “I wasn’t sure if the blurriness in my right eye was as a result of the injury but my vision is so important to me, and it was affecting my mood if I could not see well.” Following surgery his sight is so much clearer and he is over the moon, meaning he can focus on his rehabilitation.

“My cataracts led me to my dream job – it’s everything I hoped for”

For NHS nurse Silpa Pollington, a visit to an Optegra clinic for a cataract operation led to far more than just excellent vision! Silpa was so blown away by her experience that after the treatment on her first eye she left her details for the Clinic Manager in case there was a job opportunity. Some months on, she is a Bank Registered Nurse at the Optegra clinic, working two days a week as ward nurse.

“My chance to be free of glasses AND cataract”

Mark Downie discovered an opportunity to be free of glasses with his cataract op: “I was struggling to read number plates at the required distances, even with my glasses on. I was basically told I need to get my cataracts sorted or stop driving - which definitely gave me the impetus to get treatment.

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“Like most guys I was worried about an operation on my eyes, but then I got excited at the prospect of not having to wear glasses at all. It was such a liberating thought – by hook or by crook, I wanted to do it!”

Optegra offers two options for patients with cataracts. These include free NHS surgery with a standard lens which means you are likely to still need to use your existing glasses. Or private refractive cataract surgery where the clinical team select a specific multifocal lens tailored to your own prescription – with the opportunity to lose your cataracts and your glasses in one procedure.

Eye Spy a Myth – most commonly heard mistruths around cataract

Ophthalmic Consultant Surgeon, Mr Javad Moayedi, has heard many myths about cataract over the years and wants to clarify:

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MYTH: I have to wait until the cataract had fully developed before it can be removed

FACT: You can have cataract surgery at any time and as soon as it starts to affect your vision.

MYTH: Cataract surgery is painful

FACT: You have a local anaesthetic to numb the eye and all you feel is a little pressure

MYTH: A cataract covers the whole eyeball

FACT: A cataract is the natural clouding of the lens withing the eye which lies behind the pupil and iris, similar to the size of a penny

MYTH: The whole eye has to be removed to fix a cataract

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FACT: This is actually impossible! Only the lens is removed – the eyeball is held firmly in place with muscles

Optegra Eye Health Care is a specialist provider of ophthalmic services. Established in 2007, with its first hospital opening in 2008, it has completed over one million eye procedures from its 39 eye hospitals and over 60 locations across the UK, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

Optegra brings together leading-edge research, medical expertise and state-of-the-art surgical equipment. It performs more than 140,000 treatments annually, both private and publicly funded. Its top ophthalmic surgeons are renowned for their areas of expertise, offering excellent clinical outcomes and great patient service.

Tel: 0800 054 1971