Cataract Surgery in Canberra
A cataract is the name given to the condition where the natural
lens of the eye is not crystal clear.
What is cataract surgery
A cataract is the name given to the condition where the natural lens of the eye is not crystal clear. Cataract surgery is the procedure of removal of the cloudy natural lens of an eye and replacing it with a plastic artificial lens implant. Cataract surgery is performed by an eye surgeon (ophthalmologist).
Cataract surgery is necessary because cataract can cause blurred vision and other vision problems.
Cataract surgery is also known as lens replacement surgery. The procedure is painless, and in most cases restore good quality of vision.
Symptoms of Cataract
Cataracts are usually not painful. You know you need to see a doctor if your vision is not as clear as it used to be, either for distance focus, near focus, or both. You may also have some of the following symptoms:
» It is hard to see at night.
» Sensitivity to light.
» Seeing a “halo” around bright lights, such as street lights or car headlights.
» Seeing double vision or ghosting of images.
» Colours do not seem as lively or vivid as they used to.
When to see an eye doctor
Make an appointment for an eye exam if you notice any changes in your vision. If you develop sudden vision changes, such as double vision or flashes of light, sudden eye pain, or sudden headache, see your doctor right away.
Why is Cataract Surgery needed?
Here are some reasons why people need to undergo cataract surgery:
» You have reduced quality of vision or blurred vision affecting daily activities or driving.
» You have difficulty seeing well at night.
» You cannot see clearly even with glasses.
» Colors appearing faded.
» Sensitivity to glare and bright lights.
Types of Cataract Surgery
There are two main types of modern cataract surgery procedures:
The most common kind of cataract surgery is called phacoemulsification, which involves carefully directing ultrasonic waves to break up the cloudy lens (cataract) into smaller pieces.
The ultrasound is delivered to the eye through a special hand-piece which fits into a self-sealing wound less than 2.5 millimetres wide. The ophthalmologist carefully removes the lens pieces with gentle vacuum.
Following lens removal, the ophthalmologist will insert a specially designed implant, known as an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The intraocular lens will be placed into the support structure where the natural lens used to be suspended at the front of the eye.
2. Femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS)
In FLACS, a laser machine is used to perform some of the steps of cataract surgery including initial incisions, opening the lens capsule and dividing the lens.
Laser-assisted cataract surgery has not been shown to result in lower complication rates or better visual quality than in traditional phacoemulsification cataract surgery. The effectiveness of the FLACS technique is still being studied and researched, and its full potential has yet to be explored. However, there have been studies that have shown fairly equivalent outcomes.
FLACS may beneficial for advanced, mature cataracts, resulting in lower phacoemulsification energy.
Intraocular lens options
There are a variety of intraocular lens options for focusing clearly after the cataract is removed. There are advantages and disadvantages of each type of lens.
The most common type of lens inserted following cataract removal is a monofocal lens. This has a single focus. Monofocal lenses are usually selected for good distance focus, and the patient will then need to wear glasses for reading and near focus.
Toric lenses provide correction for astigmatism, making vision clearer for those patients who have pre-existing astigmatism.
Extended depth-of-focus lens
Extended depth-of-focus (EDoF) lenses are specially designed to provide good distance and intermediate focus. This is helpful for using the computer, watching TV and seeing the car dashboard, for example.
These lenses split light to allow focusing at distance, intermediate and near focus. There is a compromise in the quality of vision and contrast that the lens provides. The optics of the lens design, which allows it to provide multiple focuses.
How to prepare for cataract surgery
» Explain the process of cataract surgery, and the lens options.
» Take detailed measurements of your eyes to calculate the lens power.
» Order the appropriate lens for your eye(s).
Patients usually have to fast for a few hours before surgery, as light sedation is usually given. They may also need to stop taking certain medications, such as blood thinners.
Cataract surgery is a very safe and straightforward procedure in most cases, and patients usually go home shortly after. It is important to have someone bring you to the surgery centre or hospital, and take you home.
Here are a few things to know about surgery:
For surgery on your eyes, the anaesthetist will numb the eye with drops, or an injection around the eye. You will also be given medication to help you relax. You’ll stay awake during the procedure, but the eye will be asleep. You may be able to see movement and some light. You will also hear the eye surgeon and the phacoemulsification machine. The procedure will not hurt, but you may feel some pressure while the surgeon is operating.
You will be lying down flat, or at a slight angle, for the cataract surgery.
The ophthalmologist uses an operating microscope to perform the surgery. Tiny incisions are made to reach the lens, which is then broken up by ultrasound waves and surgically removed. Finally, the new artificial lens is placed and antibiotic injected to reduce the risk of post-operative infection.
The process of cataract surgery usually takes 10-15 minutes. In some cases, it can take longer. The admission process, anaesthesia and discharge means that you can be in the surgery centre or hospital for 2 or more hours.
The first night:
A pad and shield may be placed over the eye for the first night following surgery.
For about four weeks after the surgery, you will need to use prescription eye drops twice a day. These are anti-inflammatory drops to help the eye heal.
Most people need a few days for vision to improve after surgery. It is common for the eye to be red, gritty and irritated, and watery.
Most people will notice their vision improving after one week. The eye healing process takes about four weeks in most patients.
The days following surgery are crucial for a speedy recovery. Make sure that you follow all instructions given by your ophthalmologist, including:
» Using eye drops when you are instructed to.
» Wearing the plastic shield as instructed.
» Attending follow up appointments
These are things to avoid in the immediate days after cataract surgery:
» Do NOT rub your eye.
» Try not to get tap water or soap in the eye.
» Do not do strenuous activities.
» Avoid using eye makeup for one week.
» Do not drive or fly until your surgeon gives you the all-clear.
» Do not swim for four weeks after surgery.
Questions related to cataract Surgery Cost in Canberra
The total cost of cataract surgery depends on a range of factors including where the surgery is performed, who performs the surgery, and what intraocular lens implant is used.
Does Medicare Australia pay for cataract surgery?
Yes, Medicare Australia contributes toward fees associated with cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is a surgical procedure to remove the cloudy crystalline lens of the eye. Medicare cover the cost of cataract surgery done in public hospitals, and will contribute to the cost of surgery and anesthesia fees if the procedure is performed in a private hospital. You may also be eligible for a Medicare rebate for consultation fees related to cataract surgery. However, you may need to pay gap fees for any services that are not covered by Medicare. Speak to your ophthalmologist to find out more about the cost of cataract surgery and any other associated costs.
Is cataract surgery covered by private health insurance?
If you have cataract surgery included under your private health insurance policy, this will allow you to have surgery at a private hospital or surgery centre. There may be an excess on the policy as well as gap payments payable to the surgeon and anesthetist.
How much does it cost to get cataracts removed?
The cost of cataract surgery can vary depending on the complexity of the procedure, the type of intraocular lens used, and where the surgery is performed. The out-of-pocket cost can vary depending on level of private health insurance, if applicable. Speak to your ophthalmologist for more information about the cost of cataract surgery.
Is cataract surgery free for pensioners in Australia
Cataract surgery is covered under Medicare for eligible pensioners when the surgery is performed in a public hospital setting. Pensioners may also be eligible for a Medicare rebate for associated consultation fees related to cataract surgery. Speak to your ophthalmologist to find out more about the cost of cataract surgery and any associated fees.
How long is the wait for cataract surgery in Australia
The wait time for cataract surgery in Australia varies depending on the patient’s location and urgency of the procedure. Generally, patients can expect to wait around 6 months or longer for cataract surgery in public hospitals. However, if the cataract is causing significant vision loss or other complications, urgent appointments may be available. Speak to your ophthalmologist to find out more about waiting times for cataract surgery.
Is there any medical insurance policy that can cover cataract surgeries with zero waiting period and from first day?
Private health insurers offer a range of policies covering the cost of cataract surgery, including some that provide cover from the first day of taking out the policy. Speak to your insurer to find out more about the available cover and any associated fees or waiting periods.
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