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Posted: 13 Nov 2012, 4:01pm
by axel_knutt
How do you tell if a cataract has deteriorated sufficiently to benefit from an operation? I have one that I'm told is congenital, but it's only been a problem since middle age. Make of that what you will.

At the moment I can meet the driving requirement with one bad eye and no glasses, and read the finest text on the opticians card with my reading specs, but the time I really miss my eyesight is when I need to do three dimensional close up work which needs stereo vision. I was hunting for dry joints in the back of the telly last night, and I couldn't see a damn thing.

The optician says that it hasn't deteriorated enough for an operation, but I don't know whether that's a clinical decision or a financial one. The opticians just don't seem to get it, if you can read their card you're alright as far as they're concerned, but I only need one eye to do that.

Obviously a fixed focus artificial lens is not going to be as good as a natural one, so I don't want to bang the table and demand an operation in case I end up worse off.

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 13 Nov 2012, 8:52pm
by thirdcrank
I can't answer your question but perhaps this will get a discussion going and smoke out somebody who knows.

My mother had both her eyes done about 5 years ago when she was 87, There were various mix ups and delays before she got on the list but the procedure was straightforward and successful. The improvement in her sight was dramatic, not least because she hadn't appreciated the effect of the gradual deterioration. Any limits on what she can do seem to come from other age-related things.

My wife, now in her mid-60's, has known for a while that she has cataracts and that at some stage they will need surgery, When she went for her routine eye test earlier this year, the optician said that although she was OK for driving, therewas nothing he could do to improve her vision with specs until the cataracts were removed. Around the same time she was having quite bad headaches and when she saw our GP he immediately put it down to her eyes. (I don't know if he examined them or not but he referred her straight to a specialist eye doctor.)

When she had that appointment, at which I was present to make sure everything was remembered, the eye doctor said although one eye was worse than the other, she was nowhere near the stage where she needed surgery.

Over to the rest of the forum membership.

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 14 Nov 2012, 7:39am
by 531colin
I'm going to be facing this in a few years time, I think.....the low sun is more of a problem as the years roll on.
People I know who have had the operation describe a dramatic improvement, and the recovery is impressively quick....with the exception of one man I know only slightly (used to meet him dog walking when my daughter and dog stayed with us)...he is losing his sight due to retinal detachment. Some of his problems were (i think) due to an implanted lens not "taking" and having to come out.
So, "axel"....if you need reading glasses now, your own natural lenses are losing elasticity anyway. The age/speed this occurrs is variable, at 65 my eyes are totally fixed focus....few contemporaries don't need glasses at all. (I started needing readers at 40)
I don't know if artificial lenses are always implanted after cataracts are I need glasses or contacts anyway for short sight, then readers on top , I'm not sure how an artificial implanted lens would help me.
I don't mind using contacts...if it goes belly up, you can just take them out. Implanted lenses, implanted teeth?....not sure!
If you do some Googling, I'm sure you will find some authoritative sites, not just snake oil sellers.

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 14 Nov 2012, 8:20am
by thirdcrank
In terms of speed of recovery, after each operation (they do one at a time, worst eye first) which involved a hospital visit of a couple of hours, she had an eye-patch which had to remain on for a couple of days. There was then a period of about a month IIRC where she had to have eye drops four times daily and there was a course of antibiotics. Had my mother been able to remember to deal with all this, convalescence would have been completely straightforward.

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 14 Nov 2012, 10:33am
by BeeKeeper
As a start it might be worth talking to another optician and tell them you cycle and need good peripheral vision. My optician has a test where you look into an eyepiece and a dot flickers on the screen in different places - you press a button when you can see it. This tests for peripheral vision.

There is more info on the cataracts here: ... aract.aspx and congenital ones here: ... racts.aspx

A RNIB helpline is listed and they would be a good first call.

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 14 Nov 2012, 2:35pm
by scotsmanincumbria
I had my cateracts removed last year. The single vision lenses are very good quality. I now only need glasses for reading and I can get them off the shelf for a couple of pounds.

As said above they only do one eye at a time, you have a course of eye drop which you start using 4 times a day and reduce the amount over a 4 week period. The difference in colours are almost instant. I was in and out the operating theatre in about 30 mins, although I had to be there a couple of hours before hand for all the paperwork, and the drops to get your eye preped for the op.

Definately worth gettin done if you need it.

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 14 Nov 2012, 9:32pm
by 7_lives_left
My mother, who has had a bus pass for a good few years, /has/had/ cataracts and dry macular degeneration. She recently had one eye done for cataracts. The doctor isn't even thinking about doing the other eye yet. Her sight has been improved and the optician said she would now be alright for driving should she choose to do so. She has suffered from some headaches since the operation. The optitican said that this was someting to do with 'balance' between the eyes, though I don't understand what that means. I don't know if this is temporary or permantent.

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 14 Nov 2012, 11:23pm
by [XAP]Bob ... er_lenses/

Oops, maybe it was this thread I ment

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 15 Nov 2012, 9:09am
by 531colin
7_lives_left wrote:.............. She recently had one eye done for cataracts............ Her sight has been improved ........... She has suffered from some headaches since the operation. The optitican said that this was someting to do with 'balance' between the eyes, though I don't understand what that means. I don't know if this is temporary or permantent.

It sounds to me as if your mother is relying on the one "good" eye for her vision since the cataract operation....this can be quite hard work, and a good suspect for the headaches. (Lots of people basically rely on one eye...the "dominant" eye, that you use for a viewfinder camera, etc....if the "good" eye is now the previously non-dominant eye, it will by quite tiring.)

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 15 Nov 2012, 1:15pm
by 7_lives_left
531colin, thanks for the explanation . I will ask her about this next time I see her.

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 15 Nov 2012, 2:05pm
by axel_knutt
I think many on here are missing the point in the same way as most I speak to. I know they do one eye at a time, but I already have one good eye, that's the point:- only one. The optician has measured my peripheral vision and it's ok, that's not the point. I've spoken to my uncle who says "marvellous, huge improvement, have it done". I don't doubt there's a huge improvement, but only if your eyes are bad enough in the first place, even then he only had one eye done. I've spoken to the RNIB, and read the information pack they sent, but it's not addressing the issue. My cataract is only small, it wouldn't neccessarily surprise me if it wasn't the cause of the poorer eyesight in my left eye at all.

The issue is whether my current vision is better or worse than the standard achieved by the operation. What I really need is some sort of objective numerical measure of the typical visual accuity acheivable, so that I can compare it with what I have now.

If I do a "ctrl -" on this page twice to reduce the size I can still read it easily with my bad eye (three times and it's a struggle), but if I'm doing something like repairing the telly or marking out with a steel rule and scriber that's nothing like good enough. I've been used to reading text like this, the height of which fits between the threads of an M3 screw....

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 22 Nov 2012, 11:06am
by 531colin
axel_knutt wrote:..................... My cataract is only small, it wouldn't neccessarily surprise me if it wasn't the cause of the poorer eyesight in my left eye at all. .....................

Then isn't that the first question? Reading specs are just a fact of life as part of the ageing process. We all have one "dominant" eye, which is the one we basically see out of...its the eye you automatically use for a viewfinder camera, or a telescope. The other eye generally "sees" less well. I am strongly left eye dominant, and right handed, so rifle shooting is next to impossible.
I get the impression that your sight is deteriorating in one eye only re. fixing the maybe the question is what is the exact cause of the deterioration?
If it is the cataract, you may struggle to get treatment as your sight is "good enough" for ordinary stuff....from others contributions, that seems to be the level the NHS has set itself. Maybe if you told them you were unable to work, or something, it might make them more keen.

BTW, I find myself using a head torch more and more for "fixing" jobs

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 22 Nov 2012, 12:10pm
by thirdcrank
531colin wrote: ... I am strongly left eye dominant, and right handed, so rifle shooting is next to impossible.

I'm right handed but "left eyed" too, although I'm quite a good shot. I did my police firearms training 40 years ago and for some reason I never really understood, we had to be what I can only describe as ambidextrous with the pistol, even though the normal stance was two-handed. I'm still accurate wth a rifle but I only occasionally shoot an airgun. My right eye needs a lot thicker spectacle lens than my right. I could never understand why when I focus bino's, the correction I have to make for my right eye is small. I asked the optician and he said that the difference between them is relatively small. Getting even further away from cataracts, as a teenager I peered into the filler cap hole of a 40 gallon drum of creosote we were using to mark a soccer pitch. I got an eyeful of the stuff - right eye - and I've often wondered if that caused some damage. (ie why was I peering into the hole with my right eye if my left is the stronger?)
[ quote]BTW, I find myself using a head torch more and more for "fixing" jobs[/quote]
Me too. I have a pair of German clip-on supplementary magnifiers for my specs and I've recently bought an illuminated mounted magnifier. I don't use both at the same time - they are each useful in different circumstances. One of the most potentially frustrating jobs I have to do is to fix my own specs if a screw needs tightening or, worse still, comes out. Frantically touching wood, that hasn't happened recently.

Back to cataracts, my wife who has them and is not yet bad enough to have them removed (allegedly) feels that she always needs plenty of lights on for reading etc.

(Edited to remove a glaring typo.)

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 22 Nov 2012, 1:27pm
by 531colin
Eye dominance is subject to varying degrees. Lots of people hardly notice a dominance at all, and are able for example, to wear a contact lens for near vision in one eye, and for distance vision in the other eye, and their brain simply uses the "in focus" image. I can no more do that than fly.
Something I havn't worked out....cycling in contact lenses, when I look over my right shoulder, all I see is the side of my nose, unless I close the dominant left eye. Cycling in glasses this isn't a problem. Maybe my brain is used to ignoring the image of the glasses frame?

Re: Cataracts

Posted: 22 Nov 2012, 1:51pm
by thirdcrank
I've never tried contact lenses. Spec frames only affect me looking over my shoulder, when they can be a pita.