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Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens that gradually impairs the vision (also see Eye Conditions: Cataract)

Cataract surgery is the only way to cure cataract and restore the vision. The surgery is commonly performed using some version of phacoemulsification (ultrasonic tools to break up the cataract and remove it).

The latest addition to that procedure is to perform the first half of the operation with a Femtosecond Laser (Laser Cataract Surgery): create corneal wounds, open lens capsule and divide the cataract into small pieces. Surgery using the laser takes around the same time as standard surgery but it provides a level of accuracy that is not possible by hand and can improve the outcome in some patients.

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When the cloudy cataract is removed, a clear new lens is inserted to restore the vision. This lens needs to be calculated prior to surgery and therefore the eyes need to be measured with a number of extremely accurate machines. At Eye Surgeons SA, each patient has at least 10 variables measured for each eye to maximise accuracy.

We then use these measurements with the latest, most accurate calculations to ensure that the most appropriate lens is chosen. 

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The surgery is performed as a day procedure in an Accredited Day Surgery or Private Hospital with highly trained nursing staff and anaesthetists to assist the eye surgeon. Most patients require only a small amount of sedative to relax them, but some request a deeper anaesthetic so that they are totally unaware during the procedure. Local anaesthetic is also used to reduce any pain in the eye during the operation. 

Recovery from cataract is very fast and most patients can drive the next day. The vision usually improves over the course of one week, but it can take up to 1 month to fully stabilise. 

The decision to have surgery should be based on how much the vision is affected. Fortunately, cataract is almost never an emergency and therefore the decision does not need to be rushed.

As with all surgery, cataract surgery has the potential for problems to occur and these need to be discussed prior to booking surgery. Fortunately, serious complications are rare with modern techniques and technologies. 

The cost of cataract surgery is usually covered by Private Hospital Insurance except if Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery is chosen - this always incurs a fee (between $500 and $1000 per eye), which is not covered by either Medicare or Private Insurance. 

Cataract will never recur but some patients require the new lens in their eye to be polished at around 6 to 12 months after the surgery. This is performed easily and painlessly in the clinic and doesn’t usually require repeat treatment.