A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye, which gradually causes the vision to become blurred – this condition can affect any age group but is more common as people get older. Modern surgery will usually give a good improvement in the eyesight.
Patients referred by their GP or Optician for a suspected cataract condition will be given an outpatient appointment at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital or Cromer and District Hospital for assessment of their condition.
If the patient is having sufficient difficulties with their vision due to a cataract condition then the doctor in clinic will offer them cataract surgery. Patients will then have an assessment with a nurse to take measurements of the eyes and give them further information about the cataract operation. If possible this assessment will be carried out on the same day as the outpatient visit but sometimes it is done on the day of surgery.
Surgeons from the Ophthalmic Unit perform cataract operations in the Nelson Day Unit at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital and at the Allies Day Unit at Cromer and District Hospital. 99% of cataract operations are performed as a daycase procedure under a local anaesthetic. The operation is usually quick & painless and the vast majority of patients are delighted with the results. Most patients are ready to go home within 30 minutes of the procedure and the nurse looking after them will give them full instructions on how to care for their eye after surgery and how to contact the department if they are worried. Patients are given eye drops to use for 3 weeks following surgery and may need a friend or relative to help with these. A follow up visit is normally 4 weeks after the operation, but may be sooner if the patient also has other eye conditions such as glaucoma or diabetic eye disease.
The Eye Department information leaflet on cataract surgery can be found here. Further information on cataracts is available from the RNIB website.