Cataract surgery


A cataract is clouding or opacity of the lens inside the eye. It causes gradual blurring of vision and often glare. In a normal eye, this lens is clear. It helps focus light rays onto the back of the eye (the retina), which sends messages to the brain allowing us to see.

When a cataract develops, the lens becomes cloudy and prevents the light rays from passing onto the retina. The picture the retina receives becomes dull and fuzzy. A cataract usually forms slowly and most people experience a gradual blurring of vision.

What do cataracts look like?

In most cases, eyes with a cataract look normal but, if the cataract is advanced, your pupil may no longer look black and can look cloudy or white.

  • Most forms of cataract develop in adult life. The normal process of ageing causes the lens to harden and become cloudy. This is called an age-related cataract and it is the most common type. It can occur at any time after the age of 40.

    Although most cataracts are age-related, there are other types, including congenital (present at birth), drug induced (steroids), and traumatic (injury to the eye). Cataracts are also more common in people who have certain diseases such as diabetes.

    Can anything be done to to stop my cataract worsening?

    Unfortunately, there is no known method of preventing cataracts or stopping them from getting worse.

  • When the cataract progresses to the point that it is interfering with daily activities or lifestyle, even when using up-to-date glasses, then cataract surgery may be the next step. Modern surgery is highly successful for the majority of patients but, as with all surgery, there are risks which your consultant will discuss with you.

  • The most common treatment for cataracts is an operation to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear artificial replacement. This treatment is quick, and can greatly improve vision.

    Laser cataract surgery

    If you decide with your consultant surgeon to have laser cataract surgery (also known as femto-phako) your consultant will use femtosecond laser and ultrasound to soften the lens, which is emulsified and removed using fine instruments. A clear artificial lens (intraocular lens implant or IOL), made of a plastic-like material, is placed inside the eye. The back membrane of the lens (capsule) is left behind and this holds the artificial lens in place.

    The wound is very small and most patients do not require stitches, although rarely very fine stitches are sometimes needed to close the wound safely.

    For further information about our laser cataract consultant surgeons

    Frequently asked questions:

    What happens at the first appointment?

    A full medical history will be taken to ensure the consultant is aware of any medical conditions that may affect your ability to undergo surgery. The consultant will also discuss possible alternatives and will advise on your best options for treatment after assessing your eye health.

    How effective is cataract surgery?

    95% of patients achieve driving standard or better vision after cataract surgery.

    How long does cataract surgery take?

    Surgery takes between 30 to 60 minutes.

    Is cataract surgery painful?

    Anaesthetising eye drops combined with mild sedatives should make surgery painless. After surgery, it is normal to experience mild irritation or grittiness in and around your eye.

    Will I have to stay in hospital?

    Cataract surgery is performed on a day-care basis; this means you are admitted to hospital, have your operation and are discharged home all in the same day. You usually spend several hours in hospital from arrival to discharge.

  • Costs for the initial consultation start from £200.00

    The cost of any onward treatment will be confirmed once you have agreed your personalised plan with your consultant. As a guide this will be from £3,500 per eye inclusive of your consultant’s professional fees.

  • Moorfields Private has a worldwide reputation for providing the highest quality treatment and care for private patients seeking cataract surgery.

    All of our surgeons hold accredited consultant positions at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, working at the very top of their profession.

    We pride ourselves on offering a service with complete continuity. At each visit, you will see the consultant surgeon of your choice who will supervise every aspect of your care from start to finish.

  • You will be given instructions for your cataract surgery aftercare following your operation. This will include information regarding follow-up appointments, when you can resume your usual activities and return to work, which is normally a few days after surgery.

    Following surgery, you should be able to:

    • See things in focus
    • Look at lights without experiencing glare
    • Tell the difference between colours more easily

    It is normal for your vision to take a few days to improve after cataract surgery. Your eye may additionally be sore, scratchy and light sensitive during this period. You will have both antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops to use, typically starting the day after the surgery.

    If you need glasses after cataract surgery, your consultant will advise you to wait a few weeks after the operation before seeing your local optician to ensure the prescription has stabilised. Temporary off-the-shelf reading glasses generally work very well after cataract surgery.

    Frequently asked questions:

    How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?

    Recovery is different for every person; usually there is a fairly quick recovery time for cataract surgery, approximately 3-4 days.

    How long are you off work after cataract surgery?

    You should be able to return to work a few days after your operation, depending on your occupation. If you perform a job that is physically demanding you may require a longer period of recovery. Discuss with your consultant what is right for you.

    Can cataracts come back?

    Once the cloudy (cataractous) lens has been removed as part of cataract surgery, it doesn’t come back. However, the thin membrane behind the new lens implant (posterior capsule) may become opaque during the first few months or years after cataract surgery. This creates a filter-effect and can cause your vision to deteriorate.

    A simple laser treatment (YAG laser capsulotomy) can be performed in the out-patient clinic to clear this membrane and restore clear vision. Approximately 1 in 5 (20%) patients may benefit from YAG laser capsulotomy after cataract surgery. Your consultant will discuss whether this treatment is suitable for you.

    Can you drive after cataract surgery?

    You can usually drive if your vision meets the DVLA requirements, this is normally 3-4 days. The DVLA standard is reading a number plate with both eyes open at 20.5 meters (approximately 25 strides). Your consultant can advise you at your follow-up appointment if your vision meets this standard.

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Freephone 0800 3283 421
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Cataract surgery consultants

A picture of Ms Laura de Benito-Llopis

Ms Laura de Benito-Llopis

Consultant Ophthalmologist

A picture of Mr Ranjan Rajendram

Mr Ranjan Rajendram

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Carlos Pavesio

Mr Carlos Pavesio

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Romil Patel

Mr Romil Patel

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Alexander Ionides

Mr Alexander Ionides

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Romesh Angunawela

Mr Romesh Angunawela

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Aires Lobo

Mr Aires Lobo

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor Gus Gazzard

Professor Gus Gazzard

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Dhanes Thomas

Miss Dhanes Thomas

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Martin Watson

Mr Martin Watson

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Miriam Minihan

Miss Miriam Minihan

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Sajjad Ahmad

Mr Sajjad Ahmad

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Robert Henderson

Mr Robert Henderson

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Anant Sharma

Mr Anant Sharma

Consultant ophthalmic surgeon (private practice in Bedford only)

A picture of Mr Chien Wong

Mr Chien Wong

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon


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Paying for treatment

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