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If you have cataracts, it doesn't mean you will automatically be accepted for treatment on the NHS. Your vision must usually be severely deteriorated and daily activities such as driving and reading very difficult to do. In recent months, there has been national publicity about the rise in the number of procedures the NHS decline, as they look to cut costs even further.
Even if you are accepted for cataract surgery on the NHS, you will face long wait times (up to 6 months and in some cases, even longer). The NHS will operate on one eye and you will have to wait a number of months to have the second eye treated. It could mean you face a certain level of discomfort as the vision in one of your eyes is clear but the other is still cloudy.
It's also worth noting that the treatment offered on the NHS involves using a monofocal lens, swhich corrects vision at one distance (so if you struggle to see at both long and short distances, you would only be able to correct one). Opting for private treatment allows you visual freedom as a bifocal lens will correct all of the most common visual problems.
Benefits of cataract surgery:
No lengthy NHS waiting times, both eyes can be treated within 2 days
Can treated various vision problems, including long distance and short distance vision
Comprehensive aftercare programme is included as standard
Most cataract surgery providers offer finance payment plans, so affordability worries needn't rule you out
Cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure carried out in the UK and as a result, is one of the safest. It's a straightforward procedure in which the lens in your eyes (which has become cloudy due to the cataracts) is removed and replaced with a premium synthetic lens, allowing you to enjoy crystal clear sight once again.
The recovery process for cataract surgery is uncomplicated. It'll take up to two weeks for your eyes to settle after your surgery and for you to experience the full visual effects of your new lenses. It's recommended to take at least three days before returning to work.
The benefit of undergoing private cataract surgery is that there is no wait between the procedure on each of your eyes, so you can rest assured you'll only experience one recovery period.
Right Clinic will always recommend a cataract surgery clinic who provide a fully comprehensive aftercare program to ensure your recovery is going as it should be. This usually includes a post-operative check up one day and one week after your surgery, and continued aftercare for 12 months afterwards. You should then ensure that you attend an eye exam annually, to ensure your eyes are healthy and your vision clear.
1. Small incision cataract surgery involves making an incision in the side of the cornea (the clear outer covering of the eye) and inserting a tiny probe into the eye. The probe emits ultrasound waves that soften and break up the lens into little pieces so it can be suctioned out.
During this procedure, the surgeon removes the cataract but leaves most of the thin outer membrane of the lens, called the lens capsule, in place. The incision made for this procedure is so small that the surgeon generally does not need to use sutures to close the opening.
2. Extracapsular surgery requires a somewhat larger incision in the cornea to allow the lens core to be removed in one piece. This approach may be used if your cataract has advanced to the point where phacoemulsification can't break up the clouded lens. Through this incision, your surgeon opens the lens capsule, removes the central portion of the lens and leaves the capsule in place.
If you’ve decided private treatment is the way forward but don’t feel you can afford to pay for the procedure in one lump sum, many clinics now offer finance options. This allows you to split the cost over 10-48 months depending on the clinic.
You will usually only be offered cataract treatment on the NHS if the condition starts to severely affect day-to-day activities such as driving, walking or reading. If you are at this stage, it's recommended you see your GP in the first instance. However, it should be noted that NHS waiting lists are extremely long and operations on each eye can be held months or even years apart. The premium lenses used during private cataract treatment can also offer more vision options.
Cataract surgery is the most common surgery carried out in the UK and remains the only effective way of fully treating cataracts. During your initial consultation, an optometrist will ask you questions about your age, health, prescription and other influencing factors to assess your suitability. They will also undertake an in-depth examination of your eyes. You will be able to discuss your suitability for the treatment with them with no obligation to have the treatment recommended.
Cataract surgery is a quick and effective procedure that usually takes under 30 minutes. It can take up to two weeks for your eyes to settle post-treatment. You will be invited to attend a follow-up appointment after your surgery, which is important that you attend. Providers offer various aftercare options that ensure your eyes receive the very best of care after surgery.
Cataracts are when the lenses in the eyes become cloudy, causing blurred vision. It usually occurs as a natural age related change and continues to and worsens over time.
Symptoms of cataracts include:
• Blurred or cloudy vision
• Areas where your sight is less clear
• Double vision
• Poor night vision
• Colours that may look faded