Cataract surgery delays has more impact than loss of vision

laser surgery consultation

According to NHS England data, wait times for cataract surgery increased by 84%[1] from 2019 to 2021, with many patients now waiting up to 9 months for their much needed eye surgery. As cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure performed in the UK, this sector in particular is experiencing huge pressure. 

Ophthalmology consultant, David Shahnazaryan, specialising in cataract and refractive surgery at award-winning eyecare hospital Centre for Sight highlights how the extended waiting time is likely to be detrimental to a significant number of patients waiting for treatment. 

David comments, “Cataract is where the transparent lens of the eye develops cloudy patches. This leads to blurred vision and difficulty seeing in low light or very bright light and in turn can affect the ability to work and participate in activities such as driving, reading and exercise. This can have a huge impact on quality of life.”

What is a cataract?

Cataracts develop with increasing age. The originally transparent focussing lens of the eye becomes hard over time, necessitating the need for reading glasses. Ultimately lens transparency decreases resulting in blurry vision, especially in low lighting conditions. Cataracts can also cause halos and starbursts most noticeable when driving at night.

Cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure performed in the UK with an estimated 480,000 operations taking place each year in normal circumstances. The Covid-19 pandemic however has put considerable stress on the NHS which has resulted in a backlog of patients waiting for referrals and treatments.

Scientific studies recently published in the British Journal of Ophthamology and JAMA Internal Medicine have shown that living with cataracts not only affects the patient’s quality of life, but also increases the risk of experiencing dementia[2]. Furthermore, cataract surgery was associated with 30% lower risk of developing dementia[3].

David adds “Reduced vision is associated with hazardous falls for the elderly along with a significant decrease in the quality of life. Falls can also lead to increasing the risk of hip fractures or head injuries, which is why optimising eye health quality can highlight more serious diseases and prevent injuries, particularly for the aged”. 

Another controlled trial from the British Journal of Ophthamology reported a large reduction in falls after cataract surgery[4]. In summary, 31 of 84 patients fell over the 6 months of the surgery. Only six of these fell in the 6 months after surgery, along with two who had not previously fallen.  Falls in the elderly can be hazardous increasing the risk of hip fractures.

With all these influences adversely impacting the increasing elderly public, as a service to the community, Centre for Sight launched “One-Stop Cataract Surgery”.  This successful project has over the last year or more, provided rapid cataract surgery at considerably reduced cost. Consultation, Testing and Surgery takes place at the same visit making logistics of transport and involvement of family members and carers simpler.  

One-Stop Cataract surgery performed is similar to that provided by the NHS. The cloudy cataract lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic monofocal lens. Treatment is performed at dedicated standalone state of the art eye surgery units in East Grinstead, West Sussex and Oxshott, Surrey.

David says: ‘As members of the community, we at Centre for Sight feel we have a responsibility to provide an affordable alternative which gives patients the option of receiving high-quality cataract surgery in the shortest timeframe possible, so that they can get on with their lives.’

Centre for Sight 

Passionate about serving the community, Centre for Sight launched affordable and rapid One-Stop Cataract Service with a view to help with issues affecting patients with long waiting lists and reduced access to care. As a “One-Stop” process, those eligible will be seen, investigated and have surgery performed by one of their well-known consultant surgeons on the SAME DAY, even without a referral from their GP or Optometrist. There is also a premium service available which is performed with lasers and uses trifocal and astigmatic lenses to provide patients with freedom from reading glasses. 

Centre for Sight introduced the first VICTUS femtosecond laser to the UK in 2012 and in March will celebrate 10 years of use in over 8000 cases.

For more information about the cataract treatments available at Centre for Sight, visit the website here.

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