2022-02-23 – Addenbrooke's cataract clinic

Following the cataract clinic referral I got in September I spent this afternoon at Addenbrooke’s having my eyes examined. It was about as useful and informative as I hoped, though it took a long time. (left the house at 13:00, got back at 17:00)

the cataract

I have a large dense cataract, which means the whole lens must be replaced. This is a more difficult operation than usual: cataract surgery commonly deals with softer/smaller cataracts, which only need to replace the inner part of the lens; a simpler and less invasive procedure.

outcomes

The new lens will be fixed focus.

It is difficult to say how much vision I will have. I am going to get a copy of my opticians records which should give the surgeons a better idea of how my vision might compare to my benchmark, i.e. the way it was before the lens clouded over.

(To be honest I was hoping for better than that! But I’ll be happy if I get some of my left-side peripheral vision back.)

There is a small risk that my visual cortex might have problems integrating the vision from both eyes; I got the impression that this was explained to prepare me for the possible range of outcomes.

There was (curiously) less discussion about surgical complications, though they are covered in the patient handouts.

anaesthesia

In many cases cataract surgery is done under local anaesthetic, but because I am younger (so a general is less risky) and because it will be a longer procedure, we decided to book me in for a general.

Afterwards I will need someone (Rachel!) to escort me home.

And there is a course of (I think antibiotic?) eye drops 4x each day for (IIRC) 28 days, and a protective patch for the first few nights.

waiting time

probably about six months

machine that goes ping

There were some curious optometry devices that I haven’t seen before.

To get the prescription approximately right for the replacement lens, they measure the shape of the eye. (Longer eyes means more short sighted.) The current technology for this is optical, but it didn’t work on my eye (cataract too dense) so they used an older ultrasound thing that reminded me of a CRT light pen. It did, indeed, go ping when making a measurement.

Later on one of the surgeons used a more typical ultrasound device: I closed my eye and probed it through my eyelid and a generous smear of KY jelly.

There were various kinds of eye drops; my vision is still a bit blurry from dilated pupils!


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