Cataract surgery aids life through a lens
For one Devon man cataract surgery in both eyes not only improved his vision – it also paved the way for a successful hobby in photography.
Raymond Wergan, 84, from Newton Ferrers had been told by his optician for six years that the need for cataract surgery was getting closer.
“I wasn’t aware of any symptoms, maybe because it was a gradual process and I simply got used to it,” he said. “I wore glasses and could read number plates, but eventually my optician persuaded me that cataract surgery was required.”
Raymond’s optician referred him to Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre in Plymouth and he had his first eyed treated in May 2016. The second eye followed in October of that year.
“The treatment was amazing,” commented Raymond. “It was fast and the clinical team were very helpful. I experienced both operations without pain and I was not the slightest bit uncomfortable.”
He added: My daughter looked after me at both appointments. I felt a bit wobbly for a couple of days after the first one, but nothing serious and no pain. There was a straightforward system of using eyedrops several times a day for a couple of weeks, which I could comfortably manage on my own. The second eye was easier as I knew the ropes .The effect of the second surgery was so immediate that on the way home an hour later I could read a car number plate at twice the distance that is legally required.”
Eighteen months later, Raymond had his annual check-up with this optician. Her verdict was that his eyesight was better than 20/20 and remarkable for a man of his age who has had cataract surgery in both eyes.
As well as improving Raymond’s vision, his cataract surgery has made it possible for him to pursue a hobby in photography. He has built a reputation for photographing warships and his work has appeared in two magazines and regularly on a Dutch website.
“The cataract surgery has allowed me to pursue a number of hobbies involving sight, including birdwatching, reading, watercolours and gardening, as well as photography,” he said. “I now am blessed with brilliant eyesight which means I can pursue these pastimes which so enrich my life.”
Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre offers a range of care options including orthopaedic, cataract and general surgery and endoscopic investigations. If your GP or optician (in the case of cataract surgery) agrees that you need treatment you can ask them to refer you to the hospital for treatment – it is part of your choice as an NHS patient.
More information is available by calling 01752 506070 or by visiting www.peninsulatreatmentcentre.nhs.uk.
Six signs you may need cataract surgery
Cataract surgery is the most common procedure carried out by the NHS, with around 400,000 operations a year.
It is estimated that around 2.5 million people aged 65 and over in England and Wales have some form of vision impairment caused by cataracts. While cataracts can interfere with everyday life if left untreated, cataract surgery is a successful procedure with good results for almost all patients.
Here are the six signs that mean you might need cataract surgery:
• Cloudy vision
• Changes in colour vision
• Glare while driving
• Glare during the day
• Glasses prescription changes (increased frequency)
• Double vision or ghosting of images (especially if only noticeable in one eye)
What causes cataracts?
• Natural ageing changes (most cataracts are formed this way)
• Secondary from other illnesses such as diabetes or medications
• Previous eye surgery
• Babies can be born with congenital cataracts
What if I suspect I have a cataract?
You need a professional eye examination by your optician or ophthalmologist (after referral by your GP). If your vision can be corrected to an acceptable level with glasses or contact lenses surgery may be avoided at this time. If your vision loss cannot be corrected by the above measures and if this interferes with your daily life (driving, watching television, hobbies) then your cataract will need to be removed surgically.
What does cataract surgery involve?
Cataract surgery is the removal of the cataract and insertion of an artificial lens called an IntraOcular Lens Implant (IOL) into the eye. Far more than 90 per cent of patients operated on have a significant improvement in their vision. The operation can be performed at any stage of cataract development. There is no need to wait until your cataract is “ripe” before removing it. Most people choose to have their cataracts removed when the change in their vision starts to cause them difficulties in everyday life. Cataract surgery usually takes about 10 – 15 minutes and most people go home from hospital about two hours later. It is done under local anaesthetic, which means you will be awake during the operation but you will not feel any pain. The local anaesthetic may involve eye drops and/or a very small pellet which will slowly dissolve in the eye. After the operation, you will need to put drops into your eyes for a few weeks. Lasers are not used to remove cataracts and there is no evidence to suggest that changing your diet, taking vitamins or using eye drops can cure cataracts.
Can cataracts be prevented?
To date there is no proven method of preventing cataracts. It is very important to have regular eye examinations (every two years for adults and then every year after the age of 50) as conditions that may affect your eye health become increasingly common with age.
Please ask your local optician or doctor if you have any risk factors or indications that cataracts may be affecting your vision.