Frequently Asked Questions about Cataract Surgery

What exactly is a cataract?

Cataract means the progressive clouding (obfuscation) of the crystalline lens. Patients note a deterioration in vision; colours and surroundings appear dull. Without treatment, as well as the serious deterioration in vision, the clouding can result in a loss of sight.  Cataracts cannot be cured with medication. The only option is surgery, which today is a routine operation with minimal discomfort for patients.  With this type of surgery the risks are minimal thanks to innovative technology.  Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed operation in the world.

When does a cataract appear?

A cataract normally develops with age.  At 65 years of age almost half of people experience cataract symptoms; at 75 almost everybody notices this clouding of the crystalline lens.  A cataract can also appear as a complication after eye conditions such as inflammation of the iris (uveitis), after surgery on the vitreous (vitrectomy) or after eye injuries.  Babies can also have congenital cataracts.

What is cataract treatment like?

There is no cure using medication or eye drops.  The only option is excision of the crystalline lens and implantation of a new artificial lens (intraocular lens).

When is cataract surgery necessary?

A cataract normally develops very slowly and gradually. In the beginning patients do not notice the symptoms. When the cataract affects vision and you cannot drive for example, you need to see your ophthalmologist.

How is cataract surgery performed?

With the help of a small incision, the lens capsule in the anterior part is opened using ultrasound.  The nuclear sclerosis of the lens is irrigated and removed by suction. The posterior capsule remains, so the new artificial lens can be implanted in the natural capsule sac, in the exact position where the natural lens was before.  Thanks to the small incision, normally stitches are not needed. In recent times, a femtolaser has been of great assistance in several steps of the operation.

How dangerous is cataract surgery?

As with all operations, there are risks inherent to cataract surgery.  This operation is the most frequently performed in the world, as well as the most technically developed and standardised.  The chances of success are very high and the operation has a low impact on patients.  Normally cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure and patients can generally return home shortly after the operation.

Do I have to wear spectacles after cataract surgery?

During cataract surgery the new “intraocular” lens is implanted in the eye.  This lens is calculated precisely for you and therefore in most cases only weak spectacles are needed to see sharply.  Thanks to premium lenses with additional features, in many cases spectacles for near and distance vision are not necessary.  Nor are they needed for reading.

How can you get premium lenses with additional features and how much do they cost?

Social security covers the cost of standard lenses. The choice of premium lenses will incur additional costs. These must be paid by the patient. Ask your ophthalmologist about which premium lenses are suitable for you and the additional costs. You can find detailed information about new lenses on this website.