Cataract guide in Singapore

Cataract Eye Surgery In Singapore – Pain-Free, Minimal Discomfort And Quick Recovery

Overview

Cataract is a common eye condition that causes the natural lens of the eye to become cloudy. It impairs vision and may affect your daily activities if it becomes severe. 

Cataracts form as a result of ageing, obesity, diabetes, eye trauma, side effects of some medications etc. The symptoms of cataract include haziness, blurriness, haloes around bright lights, sensitivity to light and a loss of colour perception.

Types of Cataract

There are 4 main kinds of cataracts:

Nuclear Cataract: Most cataracts are nuclear cataracts; they form in the centre (nucleus) of the lens of the eye. This cataract is a natural occurrence of ageing.

Cortical Cataract: This form of cataract affects the cortex which is the edge of the lens. Most of the time, they start out on the edges and thereafter work their way towards the centre of the lens.

Posterior Subcapsular Cataract: This type of cataract forms on the back of the lens. Common causes are uncontrolled diabetes and taking steroid medication over an extended period of time.

Congenital Cataract: Formed at the time of birth or shortly thereafter, the cause can be genetic or via an infection.

History

Surgery to remove cataracts has evolved over a long period of time. During the 1960s, modern cataract surgery came into being when ultrasound waves were used to break up the cataract, making it easier to be removed. This process is known as phacoemulsification. After the cataract is removed, an artificial lens (intraocular lens or IOL) is inserted into the eye to restore vision. In 2010, the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgeries.

Cataract Screening 

It is recommended that you go for an eye screening if you are 45 years old and above to screen for cataract in the early stages. The screening includes determining your prescription, eye pressure and applying dilating eyedrops to check for cataracts using a slit lamp. Your eye doctor will then share the results during the consultation and lay out options available to you.

Fact or Myth?

Have surgery only when cataracts are ‘ripe’ If a cataract is making it hard for you to see and perform daily tasks, you should get surgery done to remove it. You do not have to wait for the cataract to ‘ripen’ or mature because the more ‘ripe’ or dense the cataract is, the more complex and risky the surgery will be.

Surgery

The procedure to remove cataracts is a day surgery and takes less than 30 minutes to complete for each eye. Here at Lang Eye Centre, you can rest assured that your comfort and safety is of the utmost priority. The surgery consists of the following steps:

  • Phacoemulsification – a small incision is made in the cornea through which an ultrasonic probe is used to break down and remove the cataract.
  • Intraocular Lens (IOL) – after the cataract is removed, an artificial lens or IOL is inserted to replace the natural lens.

Bladeless (Laser-Assisted) Cataract Surgery – a femtosecond laser is used instead to make the incision and break down the cataract into smaller pieces before phacoemulsification takes place.

Intraocular Lens (IOL)

Today, cataract surgery does not merely restore vision for those with cataracts. Many people are now able to improve their quality of life and enjoy good vision without the need for glasses post-cataract surgery. At Lang Eye Centre, we provide a wide range of IOLs for cataract surgery and are able to customise the treatment plan for every individual eye depending on eye condition and lifestyle needs:

Monofocal – this IOL allows for either near or far vision with the latter being the preferred choice for most people; they use reading glasses for near vision. If you do not want to use reading glasses, you can consider monovision where one eye (your dominant eye) is corrected for far vision while the other eye is corrected for near vision.

Multifocal (Bifocal or Trifocal) – while a bifocal lens lets you see well up close and far away, we offer the option to implant a trifocal lens, which has a third zone in the middle that lets you see well in the intermediate distance in addition to up close and far away. The trifocal lens aims to provide the most convenience but is also the most challenging for the cataract surgeon to implant as he/she needs to have even greater precision in the calculation and positioning of the IOL to achieve a good surgical and refractive outcome. This IOL is usually only offered by cataract surgeons who have experience with trifocal implantation.

Aspheric and Toric – Improve sharpness and correct astigmatism respectively.

Verion Image Guided System
(Computer-Assisted Cataract Surgery) 

A computerised imaging system that captures high-resolution pictures of the eye to guide the cataract surgeon during surgery to optimise the surgical outcome.

Did You Know?

If you have had LASIK surgery done, you can opt for Trifocal lenses. At Lang Eye Centre, we have the experience to perform cataract surgery using Trifocal IOLs for those who have had LASIK surgery. Trifocal lenses will allow you to retain good near, intermediate, and far vision after cataract surgery for most activities.

Cataract Surgery Recovery

Most people recover 75% of their vision the very next day with full recovery shortly thereafter, and can resume most activities. For a small number, however, recovery may take several weeks or a few months. There is a low probability of complications and side effects arising, e.g., dry eye, light sensitivity and infection. Report immediately if there is inflammation in the eye, sharp pain or worsening vision.

You will be given hospitalisation leave up to 3 weeks after the surgery (you may return to work earlier if you can see well enough). To ensure optimal recovery, you will be asked to return for 4 reviews: 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, and 3 months after the surgery.

Follow these steps for a speedy recovery after surgery:

  • During the first 5 days, use the eye shields provided when sleeping and apply the eyedrops as instructed. Also, ensure your eyes are closed when washing your hair or face.
  • During the first week, do not apply eye makeup.
  • During the first 2 weeks, avoid rubbing the eyes. 
  • During the first month, avoid water activities and contact sports.
  • Resume your work and daily activities if your vision returns sufficiently for you to do them comfortably and safely.
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Cataract Surgery Cost In Singapore

At private eye centres including public hospitals in Singapore, the fee for cataract surgery ranges from $5,500 to $12,000 per eye depending on seniority and expertise of the cataract surgeon, complexity of surgery, type of intraocular lens chosen and type of anaesthesia administered etc. 

To reduce the cost of having cataract surgery in Singapore, you can turn to your Medisave or corporate/personal insurance policies. If you are a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident, you can use your Medisave up to a maximum amount of $2,450 per eye for the surgery. You can also claim via the Medisave account of an immediate family member. 

For insurance, please check the terms of your coverage or contact your personal/corporate insurance provider for more information.

medisave

Singapore citizens and permanent residents may utilise up to $2,450 per eye from your Medisave account.

If applicable, cataract surgery may be claimable from your personal or corporate insurance.

Choosing The Right Cataract Surgeon 

To decide which cataract surgeon is right for you, consider the following:

  • Experience: Look for a cataract surgeon who has performed a large number of surgeries, the track record of those surgeries and his/her medical credentials.
  • Ability: What types of procedures can the surgeon perform and what kind of equipment and vision aids are being used? For example, can the surgeon offer a variety of IOLs including those that allow for up close, middle, and far vision?
  • Service: The level of service offered at the eye centre should meet your expectations in terms of how your eyes are examined, how your questions are answered, how helpful the staff is in providing information, and how secure you feel in terms of your well-being. 
  • Comfort: Do you feel comfortable and at ease with the cataract surgeon? Does the cataract surgeon seem sure and confident of himself/herself?
  • Fees: Are the fees presented to you in a clear manner? Are you made aware of all the fees including add-ons that are applicable before, during, and after surgery?
  • Recommendation: Get a recommendation from a friend, family member, or your GP. This is often a good way to shortlist the cataract surgeon to see.
  • Research: Read online blogs and forums to find out what others who have gone through cataract surgery have to say about their cataract surgeon and how well their surgery went. Also, look up Google and Facebook reviews as well as testimonials from those who have undergone the procedure with the surgeon.

During the initial consultation, ensure that you ask as many questions you have about the surgery itself, the recovery time, post-surgery care, and any risks involved. If the answers are not forthcoming, do not be afraid to get a second opinion – a reputable eye centre will be transparent about these issues.

Cataract surgery has a long history and is considered to be generally safe. However, choosing the right cataract surgeon can make a big difference in your experience and outcomes. Give yourself the time to find someone who meets all of your needs and preferences.

About Dr Leonard Ang – Cataract Surgeon in Singapore

Dr Leonard Ang is the Medical Director and Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist at Lang Eye Centre. He has more than 25 years of experience in cataract surgery, refractive surgery (LASIK, implantable contact lens) as well as treating complex eye diseases. He had the opportunity to train at 4 of the pre-eminent medical faculties in the world. Read more about Dr Ang.

About Lang Eye Centre

Eye Specialist Centre in Singapore

We are a one-stop specialist centre that treats a wide range of eye conditions such as cataract, myopia, corneal diseases and glaucoma. We are dedicated to giving you the best possible eye and patient care. Find out more about Lang Eye Centre.

Frequently Asked Questionss

Will I feel a lot of pain during cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is a relatively painless and comfortable procedure as your cataract surgeon will apply numbing eyedrops and give anaesthetic injections prior to surgery.

Do I need to be awake during the surgery?

Yes, you will be awake during cataract surgery.

Do I need to stay in hospital overnight after cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is a 30-minute day surgery for 1 eye. You can return home after surgery; there is no need for overnight hospitalisation.

Will the cataract return after surgery?

The cataract does not return after surgery as the natural lens of the eye has been removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens.

Can I have cataract surgery for both eyes on the same day?

Most cataract surgeons will perform surgery on 1 eye a day. This is to allow the surgeon to evaluate the outcome of the first eye before moving onto the second eye. At times, the outcome of the first eye can affect the choice of intraocular lens chosen for the second eye.

What will happen if I leave my cataract untreated?

The cataract will usually progress as one ages. When the cataract becomes too dense, it may cause the onset of other eye conditions like glaucoma and can cause blindness if left untreated.

What are the possible risks and complications of cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most performed surgeries worldwide. The possibility of serious complications is rare. Risks involved include inflammation, retinal swelling, retained lens fragment and bleeding.

Do I need to replace the intraocular lens from time to time?

There is no need for you to do so as the lens will last for the rest of your lifetime. 

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