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Cataract operations – a personal experience

Last year, SSW Chairman Barry Ward underwent a cataract operation. Here’s his experience of this eye health journey, with each stage written as it happened.

Diagnosis

I was referred to the Shoreham Eye clinic “as a precaution” after my annual eye test with Specsavers.

When I attended the subsequent appointment at the Eye Clinic, I must admit I was very surprised and somewhat shocked to be told that I needed both cataracts removing. I had no idea that there was a real problem with my eyes and initially I found it hard to accept.

However, the total lack of any surprise when I told friends and colleagues brought home to me that not only was this par for the course for someone in their 70s, but also that the general view is that such an operation is very straightforward with brilliant results.

Did that make be feel better? To be honest, it didn’t at first, although I fully understood the logic of those views. I am now just three days away from the first operation and I’m feeling reasonably calm but nonetheless anxious – if that’s not a contradiction in terms!

Operation

On the day I was much calmer than I expected. The nursing staff were very reassuring and helpful, responding positively to all my questions.

The operation itself was strange (being fully awake) but totally pain free and not even uncomfortable. If, as expected, the other eye needs doing then I shall have no anxieties at all.

The de-briefing from a nurse was thorough and fully documented. I left with a patch and padding to provide protection for the first night. Then the advice was to wear the patch (without the padding) just overnight for the first two or three nights, to avoid anything hitting the eye.

Recovery

This varies apparently, depending on the severity of the initial condition and the individual’s own health.In my case, the following days were as follows:

  • Days 1 and 2: I could see very little out of the eye that was treated. It was like being in a white cloud trying to look out.
  • Day 3: there was an improvement. It was now like looking through heavy net curtains particularly in the centre of my vision.
  • Day 4: I could now see more consistently although with a slight “haze”.
  • Day 5 onwards: I have been managing without my glasses at all when walking or just sitting indoors (I am long sighted). Having worn glasses all the time for nearly 40 years, that is a strange feeling (something that my children and grandchildren are finding equally strange as they have not seen me without glasses).

Some time has now passed since the operation and the sight in the eye continues to improve. I had the left lens in my previous glasses changed to clear glass as the prescription lens was making it difficult to focus with my newly improving eye when reading

Cataracts: did you know?
  • Cataracts are caused when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy and no longer focuses light properly, often causing a blurry vision effect.
  • It’s not just the elderly who are affected by cataracts. Although it is more prevalent in the elderly, it is possible in people of all ages.
  • Cataracts are the biggest cause of vision loss in the world.
  • Sun exposure can increase your risk of cataracts. So, the hat you wear to protect the skin on your face will actually help prevent the onset of cataracts too. Sunglasses (or some sort of protective eyewear), of course, are also helpful.
  • You can reduce your risk for cataracts. While you cannot completely prevent cataracts, you can reduce your risk by eating healthily, exercising, not smoking and wearing sunglasses.
  • Surgery is the only treatment but cataracts can’t grow back – because the lens is replaced by a plastic one, it can’t then develop a new cataract. It can become cloudy but this can be removed with the use of a laser.

Thanks to Barry for sharing his experiences of cataracts – the initial diagnosis, the run up to and the operation itself, as well as his recovery from the operation.

We hope Barry’s experience helps you understand the process and that there is nothing to fear. In fact, like most operations, the results are worth the possible apprehension.

If you have an eye health experience to share, or you would like more advice on sight loss, please do get in touch with us. If we cannot help you ourselves, we will know someone who can!