Cataracts occur when the lens inside the eye becomes cloudy or opaque. The effect is progressive dimming of vision, at first like looking through dirty glasses. Those with cataracts find that everyday activities like driving a car or reading a newspaper become harder and colours become difficult to appreciate.
Today, after more than three decades of development, the World Health Organisation states that cataract surgery is one of the safest surgeries performed in the world, with millions of successful procedures completed every year.
It is the most commonly performed surgery in the world with about 325,000 procedures performed in the UK per year. Each procedure takes approximately 15-20 minutes.
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE)
This procedure is also known as Clear Lens Exchange and is the same surgical procedure as cataract treatment – the natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens. It is generally suitable for patients over the age of 40.
Each lens is specially selected for the patient to ensure the best possible visual outcome. This procedure can correct Presbyopia (the need for reading glasses) if a multifocal lens is used (see Types of Lenses). An advantage of this treatment is that a cataract cannot form at a later stage.
Types of Lenses for RLE/Cataract Treatment:
Monofocal lenses correct your vision for good distance vision only. Following the insertion of these lenses, reading glasses will be required regardless of your age, unless you opt for a slightly short-sighted lens in one eye (Monovision).
Multifocal Lenses (including Trifocal and Extended Vision)
Multifocal lenses also eliminate or reduce the need for reading glasses (presbyopia). This treatment can ‘turn back the clock’ to restore youthful vision for close up, intermediate and distance vision.
This procedure is where two lenses are implanted – the primary lens and a supplementary piggyback lens. A duet procedure would be chosen in cases of complex prescriptions or where a future adjustment may be required.