Annette Qazi had an eye test on Christmas Eve last year, when she was told she had cataracts in both eyes. The retired Leeds paediatric nurse had to give up driving and was even finding watching tv difficult.
Annette: “I panicked a bit at first when I was given the news. I hadn’t realised I had cataracts. I knew my sight had deteriorated but thought I just needed stronger prescription glasses. It was devastating having to give up driving, it’s my only way of getting around. It meant losing my independence and my freedom. I knew I needed to do something about it straight away.”
Annette’s GP referred her to an NHS hospital in Leeds, but during the pandemic she was classed as ‘vulnerable’ and on the shielding patient list, so she decided to go to Spire Leeds Hospital as a private patient under the care of Mr Raj Mukherjee, consultant ophthalmologist.
Annette: “I was nervous about the surgical procedure but the minute I met Mr Mukherjee he immediately put me at ease. I felt total confidence in him and knew I was in good hands. Everyone at Spire was brilliant and I was well looked after. The surgery was fine – absolutely nothing to worry about!”
Annette attended as a day patient, and the cataract on her right eye was removed in May 2021 and on the left eye in June. Without the surgery, her vision would have deteriorated, making normal activities much more challenging.
Mr Mukherjee: “Cataract surgery is a safe and straightforward procedure that can achieve dramatic improvement when cataracts have progressed to the point that seriously impairs vision and impacts daily activities. Surgery involves replacing the cloudy lens inside the eye with an artificial one. It’s performed under local anaesthetic as a day-case procedure. Recovery is quick and most surgeries take between 15 to 20 minutes only. Following surgery, Annette could read without her glasses easily and clearly. Vision usually improves within a week, but the final vision is usually achieved in 4 – 6 weeks.”
It’s estimated that this major cause of impaired vision affects around 2.5 million people in England and Wales, aged 65 or older.
Mr Mukherjee: “Early detection makes the surgery easier and enables faster treatment before the problems appear. There are a variety of lenses and the type of lens will be determined by a pre-surgery assessment to establish your particular requirements, for example, whether you are long or short-sighted, or if you favour one eye for distance and the other for reading. So, careful evaluation of the individual patient’s needs must be discussed in detail with the surgeon before surgery.”
Annette is back behind the wheel: “It’s over a year since I’ve driven and it’s great to get back my independence. I also don’t need glasses for reading anymore and my natural eyesight has improved. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this procedure to others.”