Shared from the 9/27/2018 The Age Digital Edition eEdition

Good sight brings freedom, self-reliance


Melbourne Comprehensive Eye Surgeons’ practice is in Bellfield.

Eye operations are aimed at restoring quality of life.

Getting back behind the wheel or being able to read the newspaper clearly are just two of many independent habits cataract surgery can help you regain.

“There are many people who, before having cataract surgery, can’t drive a car any more,” says Heathcote Wright, a cataract and glaucoma surgeon at Melbourne Comprehensive Eye Surgeons.

“I see a lot of people who are worried about falling or they are worried about going out in the evening because their cataract makes it difficult for them to navigate in low light,” Dr Wright says.

‘‘Once they have cataract surgery and get back to those activities, they don’t realise how isolated they were getting. Cataract surgery, more than anything, is a quality of life operation.”

The eye practice’s state-of-the-art facilities in Bellfield were purpose-built for ophthalmology, with a focus on streamlining the patient experience.

Highly experienced surgeons provide comprehensive eye care that in addition to cataract surgery includes laser vision correction surgery, corneal, glaucoma and oculoplastic surgery.

“As we age, the lens in our eye develops a yellowish discolouration and can become cloudy; when it starts to blur vision it becomes a cataract,’’ he says.

Pathological cataracts start to become common at about age 65 but can cause problems for much younger people. Cataract surgery with a standard lens may be an option for people on a long public waiting list. Premium options are available and include laser-assisted cataract surgery (which may provide some advantages in precision and consistency) and premium lenses, such as multifocals, that may allow people to see in the distance and up close without the need for glasses.

“Once you get to about 50, the natural lens is no longer able to focus and you become reliant on glasses for reading. At this point the benefit of cataract surgery may become even more pronounced if it can help achieve spectacle independence,” Dr Wright says.

To provide the best chance of becoming glasses-free, a combination of laser-assisted surgery with a multifocal lens may be a good option, he says.

Cataract surgery can also be combined with new procedures to assist patients with glaucoma.

Cataract surgery is considered to be relatively painless and takes about 15 minutes, although patients will likely be at the day surgery for about three hours. “Most people can see reasonably well within a few hours of the operation. For many patients, vision is back to normal within a day or two and for the vast majority of people vision is sharp within a week,” Dr Wright says.

Patients should wear an eye shield for about four hours after surgery and then at night for the first week.

They are encouraged to avoid strenuous exercise or lifting heavy weights for about four weeks after surgery and can usually go back to work within about a week.

If both cataracts require treatment it is recommended they be undertaken separately, with a few weeks between procedures.

Melbourne Comprehensive Eye Surgeons offers cataract surgery from about $1600 an eye for uninsured patients, while premium surgery, including laser-assisted surgery and multifocal lenses, can cost more.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risk. Before proceeding, you should seek an opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

‘For many patients, vision is back to normal within a day or two and for the vast majority of people vision is sharp within a week.’

- Dr Heathcote Wright

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