Concerned about cataract surgery? Advice from an expert

Written by: Mr Ulrich Meyer-Bothling
Published: | Updated: 25/10/2019
Edited by: Cameron Gibson-Watt

You may have concerns about cataract surgery, either for yourself or a loved one. Cataracts are a fairly common condition of the eye and consists of some clouding of your own natural lens. The condition is age-related and develops very gradually. Mr Ulrich Meyer-Bothling, an expert consultant ophthalmic surgeon, explains a bit more about cataract surgery.



When should you have surgery?

The decision if and when to have cataract surgery is entirely subjective, but generally we are guided by the fact that patients want to keep driving or performing specific tasks which have become difficult to do, e.g. small print reading, watching TV or playing golf.

In most cases I would always wait with cataract surgery until the cataracts interfere with normal life. Rarely do I recommend to have a cataract operated on early.


What happens during surgery?

During the initial consultation we’ll have a discussion regarding all the options and go over the pros and cons of implanting special lenses, such as trifocal and toric lenses, which have the potential to make you fairly spectacle independent.


During cataract surgery we remove the cataract, which is your own cloudy lens, with the help of ultrasound through a very small keyhole incision. We then replace it with a folding acrylic implant lens. The surgery itself is pain-free and we numb the eye with very strong drops.


During the surgery, you are lying down and we use ultrasound to remove the lens. We then replace your old lens with a new customised lens. Part of the operation can be done with laser, however, big studies have shown that this does not significantly change the outcome. So it’s really up to each surgeon whether or not to use a laser during cataract surgery.


We try to reduce your post-operative glasses wear as much as possible, but you still may require distance glasses for good vision and even reading glasses. In either case, your glasses' prescription will definitely change after the operation.


What is recovery like?

Recovery after cataract surgery is reasonably swift. Within a few days you will see fairly well but you will need to apply anti-inflammatory drops for around four weeks.


I always discuss all of the pros and cons and the risks of cataract surgery with every patient during the initial consultation. I also discuss the post-operative visual requirements which will include a choice of intraocular lenses depending on your expectations and your post-operative requirements.


Can cataracts return?

The short answer is no. The slightly longer answer is that most patients after cataract surgery do get something we call posterior capsular thickening which affects the clear membrane behind your new lens. At the time of surgery, this is perfectly clear but it tends to pacify over time.


In most patients, this will happen anytime between three months or ten years after the surgery. Luckily, the treatment for this is a small, pain-free procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy which can be done on an outpatient basis.


If you are interested in an appointment with Mr Ulrich Meyer-Bothling, visit his profile and book online.

By Mr Ulrich Meyer-Bothling

Mr Ulrich Meyer-Bothling is a renowned consultant ophthalmic surgeon and founding member of the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service in Surrey, UK. He specialises in the treatment of complex cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and refractive lens surgery, though he provides wide-ranging treatments of many ophthalmic conditions. 

Mr Ulrich Meyer-Bothling originally studied in Hamburg, Germany before continuing his studies at the University of Oxford, at Yale University and at the University of Melbourne. He completed a fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, before being appointed consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Ashford and St Peters Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He provides a number of private clinics in Surrey and West London.

Mr Meyer-Bothling has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in medical journals, and has been involved in a number of research projects in his field. 

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