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Cataract removal and lens replacement surgery – pre-op
I recently went for a cataract removal and lens replacement pre-op appointment at Optical Express in Cambridge. They say that with age comes wisdom, I doubt that but what comes with age is terrible eyesight.
Cataract diagnosis in the right eye
Back in 2019, I was diagnosed with the start of a cataract in my right eye. I didn’t notice anything, with glasses my eyes felt ok. I could see both closeup and distance. I was prescribed a new pair of varifocal glasses, which helped quite a lot and I never thought about it anymore.
About a year later I decided to go back to the opticians as I was having difficulty with my eyes, I noticed that I was getting haloing around lights as I was driving or looking at streetlights. It was fine for watching TV and reading, though using a computer was complicated. I had an eye test and they told me that the sight in the right eye had deteriorated a little, but my prescription was ok for now if I wanted to keep my current glasses.
Cataract diagnosis in the left eye
During that appointment, I mentioned to the Optician about the cataract in my right eye and they mentioned it was a little worse than previously. At that appointment, they did mention that I had a cataract growing in my left eye, which to be honest was a bit unnerving. I thought if this carried on I would go blind, this was something that happened to my maternal grandmother and I wanted to avoid this.
Cataract removal referral made by Optician
It was in September 2021 that I had to go back to the opticians again as I felt my sight had deteriorated significantly and I felt unsafe driving and working was difficult. During my eye test, it was confirmed that my prescription for glasses had changed and I bought a new pair of varifocal lens glasses.
When I tried on my glasses my vision felt very strange. I struggled to adjust to seeing both closeup and distance. I was told by the optician that my eyes would adjust to the new glasses and to give them a week.
A week later and with a lot of frustration my eyes didn’t adjust to the new glasses and I was getting head and eye aches so I made an appointment to go back. On this occasion, I was told that the difference between my right eye and my left eye was so great that varifocals would not work for me, so I was given two pairs of glasses. One pair for close-up work and one pair for distance.
Again these didn’t work out for me as I was constantly changing between glasses and still getting headaches. I did go back to the optician in October 2021 and explain my problem and it was at that point I was told that the optician would make a referral for cataract removal.
The referral was sent to my GP who called me to discuss the referral for cataract removal and lens replacement surgery. It was then they passed it on to a hospital, which one I don’t know.
Because I am not blind, and my peripheral vision is ok I know that it is a possibility that I would have to wait several years before my operation would take place.
The good news I got was that I had some money coming to me that I was not expecting, and I found that I could go private to have a cataract operation. Anyone who knows me would know that I am an advocate of the NHS and that treatment should be free at the point of use. I also know that I would have to wait for many years for the operation and because I had some money I decided it was time to start my homework and look at the options for cataract removal.
My Research on cataract surgery
As usual, I searched the internet to see what was out there as far as options and costs to have lens replacement surgery privately. What I discovered was that the prices for the operation varied wildly depending on who did the operation and what lenses were used.
For those who are not in my position, who are not familiar with what is involved in a cataract removal operation I will try and fill you in, though bear in mind I am not a doctor or an optician.
My understanding is that during my lens replacement surgery to remove a cataract they have to make a tiny cut into the eye and remove the entire lens in your eye. They can’t just remove the cataract because the cataract is when the lens of your eye becomes cloudy. They then put an artificial lens in your eye.
The NHS website goes through what a cataract is, the preparation for the lens replacement surgery, the operation and the benefits
What I discovered about having an NHS operation is that the choices are limited. I don’t believe you can choose which hospital your operation will take place in, but more importantly, you don’t get the choice of what kind of replacement lens you have.
There are several different brands and types of lenses. The main two that come to mind are Monofocal and Multifocal. The Monofocal lens is the one that is used mostly in lens replacement and does improve eyesight. Normally it would give people good distance vision, but they may need to have glasses for close-up work.
The multifocal lens gives people the benefit of both distance and close-up vision without the need for glasses. These options are normally discussed at a pre-op appointment. From what I am aware the NHS does not offer Multifocal lenses so that is another reason I decided to go privately.
The benefit of going for private lens replacement surgery is that if you are a suitable candidate you can choose to have a Multifocal lens replacement, though this does incur an extra cost over a monofocal lens. The cost of Monofocal Lenses can cost between £2,000 and £3,500 whereas Multifocal lens replacement can cost between £3,500 and £4,500 per eye. Another thing that I did consider is where I could choose to have the operation done. As I previously mentioned on the NHS I don’t think you get that choice.
After doing all my research I still wasn’t sure where and when I would have my cataract removal and lens replacement surgery, I then found out that my sister was planning on having eye surgery on both eyes with Optical Express. About a month later my sister had her operation and that went well. The operation itself took around 20 minutes and after her recovery stay, as they do sedate you, she went for breakfast.
24 hours later she had to go for another eye test and at that examination, she was told that she almost had 20/20 vision without glasses. She was able to watch TV within a couple of days and was back at work within the week.
I decided at that point I would go with Optical Express for my eye surgery. As a bonus, because my sister had an operation with Optical Express she was given a discount code that she was given that she could share with friends and family that gave a discount of £300 for anyone she recommends.
Pre-Op Eye Test at Optical Express
Booking an appointment was easy as Optical has a telephone booking service and I could book with the most local Optical Express Opticians to me. I chose to go to the Cambridge branch because even though it isn’t the closest it is the easiest to get by train. I was not able to drive as they would be putting drops in my eyes to dilate my pupils so they could do several tests on my eyes.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by the receptionist, and I was taken into a room where I completed an online form with all my medical details. Once that was completed I then went to the reception to await my tests.
My initial tests were with someone who took me through a series of tests to check my eye prescription. The tests included checking my vision, taking pictures of the back of my eyes, checking my peripheral vision and also checking my eye with a kind of MIR scan.
Once those tests were completed I was then sent in to see a consultant who would explain the cataract surgery procedure and also do some more tests on my eyes. It was with a consultant that drops were put into my eyes to dilate my pupils. The room was quite dark, so it wasn’t too uncomfortable. It was a little uncomfortable, but not painful after my eyes were fully dilated and I had to look at a bright light so he could look at the back of my eye.
The whole consultation took around 90 minutes and I didn’t feel under any pressure at any point to make any decisions, though I had made up my mind that I would have my surgery done by Optical Express.
Replacement lens options
During my consultations, we discussed what options for lenses were open to me. I had the choice of monofocal lenses which would give me good distance vision, but I may need glasses for close-up work.
The other option was Multifocal lenses that would give me distance, close up and intermediate vision. With the possibility that I may need to have glasses to read, that is not unusual.
I chose to go with Multifocal. They did warn me that with these lenses some people do experience “haloing” when looking at car lights and streetlamps at night but that most people do adjust to this. If I felt that I couldn’t live with the haloing then within the year I could have the Multifocal lenses replaced within the price of the initial surgery.
Aftercare is very good too. As a part of the package for the operation, you get 12 months of care for your eyes. That includes the 24-hour test, one week later test, 3-month test and eyecare for 12 months after the operation.
During the initial appointment, I was also asked to pay a £500 deposit for my operation. The way I decided to pay for my surgery was to pay the £500 deposit, the bulk of it in cash and then the rest of it by interest-free loan arranged by Optical Express over 10 months
I have now set a date for my eye surgery on the 1st of July 2022 and all being well it will go ahead.
My plan is then to feedback on the results to you, my readers and subscribers of my Cataract Post Operation. Explaining to you the procedure, and how I felt after. What the results were 24 hours later and then one week later?
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