Cataracts occur when the lens, a small transparent disc inside your eye, becomes less transparent and more misty. Over time, this causes blurry or misty vision and can eventually lead to reduced sight until they are treated. Cataracts are common in older people and are a normal part of the ageing process of the eye. When we are young, our lenses are usually clear and transparent, allowing us to see through them. As we get older, they start to become cloudy and can limit our vision.
Sometimes, children can be born with cataracts or develop them in the first few years of life. However, most cataracts occur after the age of 50. Childhood cataracts require specialist assessment by our paediatric ophthalmology team.
In most cases, cataracts continue to develop slowly and surgery to remove the cataract may be needed to restore sight. Cataracts do not normally damage the eye in other ways.
More on what we do
We carry out cataract surgery in our day case department at the West of England Eye Unit Wonford and at Axminster Hospital. We do approximately 4,500 of these operations every year.
Our eye surgeons will replace the cloudy lens inside your eye with a clear artificial one.
It's the most common operation performed in the UK, with a high success rate in improving eyesight.
Before surgery: You'll have a pre-operative assessment and chance to discuss the risks and intended benefits of surgery. During the assessment, different measurements will be taken of your eyes and your eyesight.
Cataract surgery: Cataract surgery is a usually a straightforward procedure that takes 20 to 30 minutes. It is normally carried out under local anaesthetic. This will consist of eye drops and/or injecting anaesthetic solution around the eye. You will be awake during the operation but you will not be able to see what is happening, however you may be aware of a bright light. At the end of the operation a pad or shield will be put over your eye to protect it. This will stay in place for 4 hours after the operation.
After surgery: It can take 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover from cataract surgery. Most people find that their vision improves after surgery. You will still need to use glasses for certain tasks, such as reading.
We hope to provide a comfortable environment for you to wait for your cataract pre-assessment or surgery. If you have any comments on this, we would be delighted to hear from you.
Mr James Benzimra
Mr Daniel Byles
Mr Nat Knox Cartwright
Mr Roland Ling
Mr Sam Marshall-Evans
Mr Rob Munneke
Mr Peter Simcock
Mr Mike Smith
Miss Hirut Von Lany
Mr Conor Ramsden
Miss Ioana Pereni
You may also be seen by one of the other ophthalmologists (specialist eye doctors).
Where to find us
RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW
From the main hospital reception, turn immediately right for the West of England Eye Unit.
Click here for details on Axminster Hospital.
If you have any questions regarding your operation, please contact Eye Day Case Unit on 01392 406013. They are available 9am-5.30pm, Monday to Friday.
At Axminster Hospital, the receptionists will guide you. Phone enquiries should be directed to RD&E Wonford as above.
Patient leaflets and documents
Our team provide cataract assessment and treatment at Axminster Hospital
Children and young people
Cataracts in children and infants are uncommon and require specialist assessment and management by our paediatric ophthalmology team. The management of childhood cataract is a little different from the procedures described above and will be discussed with you on a case-by-case basis, following assessment by the paediatric ophthalmology team.
Information for healthcare professionals
Please ensure your patient would benefit from cataract surgery and is keen to proceed with surgery, if offered, prior to referral. Ruling out other pathology is recommended and GPs are encouraged to request an eye examination with an optometrist, who can refer on if cataract is confirmed as the cause for the patient’s symptoms.