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Results of cataract surgery

NHS ChoicesMedical Reference

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The sight of most people (around 95%) will improve almost immediately after cataract surgery. However, cataract surgery will not always completely restore your vision.

After the operation, if you do not have other eye conditions, you should be able to:

  • see things in focus, although you may still need glasses
  • look into bright light without as much glare
  • tell the difference between colours
  • start to enjoy your usual activities, such as reading, working, watching television, sport and driving

Approximately 1 in 100 people will need to have a second operation. One person in 1,000 will experience a complication that results in them having permanently worse vision, even when wearing glasses.

Success of replacement lens

Treatment for cataracts usually involves surgery to replace the clouded natural lens with an artificial monofocal lens, which has just one strength of focus. A monofocal lens will usually restore good distance vision, but you may still need reading glasses for close work.

Sometimes, the natural lens is replaced with either a multifocal lens or an accommodating lens, which allows you to focus on both near and distant objects.

Some patients who have a multifocal lens fitted may not need to wear glasses at all after surgery. A review of studies by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) showed that 68% of patients who had multifocal lenses implanted needed glasses after their operation, compared with 95% of patients given monofocal lenses.

For any lens replacement, the quality of your vision after cataract surgery depends on the correct measurements of your eye being taken before your operation.

The pre-operative assessment ensures the most appropriate replacement lens is chosen to fit your eye, and reduces your chances of having poor vision after your operation.

Glasses prescription

It will take several weeks after cataract surgery for your vision to settle down before your optometrist (a person who examines eyes, tests sight and prescribes glasses and contact lenses) can give you a new glasses prescription, if you need one.

Medical Review: April 25, 2012

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