What are my treatment options for cataracts?
Mr Tariq Ayoub - 25 Oct 2022
The early stages of living with cataracts can be managed at home with lifestyle changes, such as changing your diet or wearing glasses. However, to permanently treat your cataracts and stop them from forming, you will need surgery.
All treatments have three main purposes: to manage symptoms, slow progression, and remove the cataract itself.
Management options are non-surgical but do not cure your cataracts. The only way to fix a cataract is to remove the clouded lens with surgery. However, many people may not need or want surgery immediately to treat their cataracts.
There are many actions you can take which can help you deal with the symptoms of cataracts and delay their development.
Small changes may be needed to counter cataract symptoms, such as blurry vision and vision loss, using brighter lights or magnifying lenses can aid your eyes during your daily activities. Anti-glare sunglasses may also improve your sight while outside and protect your eyes from UV light. UV protection could also slow cataract progression.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is great for your overall eye health. We recommend eating a well-balanced diet, quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, and managing other health conditions.
Getting prescription glasses or contact lenses is the next step to managing your symptoms. As cataracts progress, you’ll need to update your prescription to match. Tinting or coating your glasses might help and you can discuss this with your eye specialist. Eventually, these may not be enough to assist your vision.
How do you know when it’s time to have cataract surgery?
Your eye specialist can advise you on when surgery may be required. We recommend attending regular check-ups to monitor your cataracts and eye health.
It might be time if you
- Find it hard to perform tasks at home or work
- Struggle to read or watch TV
- Experience pain with bright lights
- Have a lower quality of life due to your vision
- If you do not meet the DVLA driving standards
Mr Tariq Ayoub, our Consultant Ophthalmologist and Founder, explains more in our short video.
People with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health conditions may experience faster cataract progression. Waiting too long can make your surgery more complex, as the cataract will thicken and become denser. Cataracts can lead to blindness if you leave them untreated, so regular check-ups will help your eye specialist advise you.
Surgical treatment options
Cataract surgery has been shown to be very safe and effective. During the procedure, we replace your clouded lens with an artificial one, which will prevent you from getting a cataract in that eye again. Find out more about the procedure here: What happens during cataract surgery?
People with refractive errors can opt for refractive cataract surgery, which allows us to correct your vision and remove the cataract. Your needs and wishes will also influence the type of artificial lens we use during surgery. Read our blog to learn more about the options available: Types of lens implants used in cataract surgery.
During laser-assisted surgery, we use a computer-guided laser to create the initial incision. The benefits of laser-assisted surgery include fewer complications and side effects after surgery. However, it does not affect the outcome. It is also an expensive option. As a result, many ophthalmologists don’t offer this option in the UK.
Additionally, not everyone is suitable for laser-assisted surgery. People who have had complex cataract, corneal or glaucoma surgery cannot have laser-assisted cataract surgery as the laser cannot penetrate your eye effectively.
If you are unsure about surgery, speak to our ophthalmologist. They can ease your worries and answer any questions you have. We’ve also covered some common queries here: Questions to ask about cataract surgery.
Scientists are currently researching the possibility of an eye drop to reverse cataracts. These studies have included the use of sterols, which are found in animal and plant lipids. An example of a well-known sterol is cholesterol.
One study involved a compound called oxysterol, while another used a sterol called compound 29. In 2015, a study used eye drops containing lanosterol on dogs with cataracts and found that it did improve their vision.
No eye drop for humans is available yet, and it may take 12-15 years to have a commercially available option. It also may not be as effective on humans and requires further testing. But this may be a treatment option in future.
Book an appointment
If you have cataracts and believe it’s time for surgery, get in touch. Our ophthalmologists will assess the health of your eyes and cataract progression to determine the most suitable treatment method.
At Oculase, we provide private surgery, including refractive and complex procedures. Learn more about the benefits of going private: Why should I choose private cataract surgery?