Worldwide approximately 10 million cataract operations are performed each year, with roughly half a million of these procedures being completed in Australia. The new Cataract Hub at Queensland Eye and Retina Specialists is designed to provide high quality, bespoke care to patients in Brisbane and greater Queensland.
What is a cataract?
Cataract is a normal aging process where the natural lens of our eyes which are normally clear turn white and opaque. When this happens, the amount of light coming through is reduced, and you will notice a gradual blurring of your vision. If untreated, it will eventually cause blindness.
How do I know if I have got one?
By the age of 55, most people will have some form of cataract developed. A regular visit to your local optometrist will pick up any cataract development. In most cases, the progression is slow, and you will most likely remain under their watch. This is a good time to discuss the prospect of surgery and lifestyle options after surgery.
Once the cataract progresses beyond a point where renewing spectacle script will not improve your vision, your local optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist (eye specialists) of your choice, or someone they have a relationship with.
Is it treatable?
Good news, cataract can be surgically removed. It is the most common elective surgery in Australia and around the world.
How is it done?
You will require an initial assessment with an ophthalmologist.
Most cataract surgery can be performed as a day procedure under local anaesthetic with sedation in a private hospital. The procedure involves making a micro incision to allow the cataract to be removed and a replacement artificial lens called ‘Intra Ocular Lens’ (IOL) to be inserted. Your doctor can select an IOL to restore clear vision and some IOL types may be able to reduce your reliance on glasses.
After surgery, vision will continue to improve and settle in most cases. It is important that you attend follow up appointments with our ophthalmologist to check for signs of complications so they can be addressed straight away.
My optometrist already told me I have cataract, why do I need to come in?
Your local optometrist plays a key role in the care process. As part of their ongoing relationship with you, their referral will outline what kind of lifestyle you desire post-surgery.
This allows us to tailor the right option for you. In your initial assessment, you will have a range of diagnostic scans so we can pick up any other underlying condition you may have, the complete care option will be outlined to you along with the benefit and risk involved.
Another reason is to select the right IOL implant lens for you. Some premium lens may allow you to be glasses independent, while others will require glasses to boost your near vision. There is not one size that fits all.
The final decision to proceed to surgery rests with you, and if you would like to go ahead, we will book a separate time for the surgery. Bear in mind, surgery will never be on the same day as the initial consultation.
Where can I get it done?
Privately, all cataract surgeries are performed in a day hospital by an ophthalmologist. Arrangement must be made for a responsible adult to pick you up and keep an eye on you 24 hours after surgery. Our doctors perform surgery at Brisbane Day Surgery, Eye Tech Day Surgeries Spring Hill, and Westside Private Hospital.
Is there any risk?
All surgery will have underlying risks, part of our assessment will outline all the potential risks so that you can make an informed decision.
Although most routine cataract surgeries have good outcome, no doctors can provide guarantee as there is always inherent risks involved. We allow sufficient time so you can have a proper clinical consultation, your ophthalmologist will meet with you and answer any questions you may have regarding the risks.
My friends had cataract done and they no longer need glasses, can I have the same?
Assuming that your eyes are otherwise healthy, and you have no underlying health issues, this is a possibility. The primary reason for cataract surgery is to remove the cloudy natural lens and implant a clear lens (IOL) so vision is restored. With advances of lens design, multiple options are now available to correct your vision.
There are three main lens designs: mono focal, extended depth of field (EDOF) and multifocal – each comes with its own pros and cons. Our optometrists and ophthalmologists will work with you to suggests the ones that will suit you most.
Premium Multi focal
(Reading road signs)
(Reading car dashboard)
(Reading up close)
Halos and rings (distortion)
How much would it cost?
If you have private health insurance, and your policy includes cataract surgery, your health fund will contribute most of the cost and almost any type of lens you choose. It is important to know that we obey the rules set by Medicare, therefore you must have a valid referral to be eligible for rebate and subsequently health fund coverage.
Under the private care plan, there are always three separate entities that will provide care, and hence send you a bill. These are – Hospital, surgeon, and anaesthetist. During your consultation, an informed financial consent process will detail who and what you will be billed (if any), we will detail the surgeon’s fee and provide estimates for hospital fee and anaesthetic doctor fee. We would encourage you to confirm with your health fund and other providers to ensure that you do have any surprises on the day of surgery.
What options do I have if I do not have private health insurance?
No problems, many of our patients choose to self-fund the procedure rather than waiting years for their turn in the public hospital system or paying for higher insurance premium. It is important to understand the difference between choosing private care and public care.
Australia’s public health system offers free health care to all Medicare card holders. As such there is an extremely high demand for the system. All public hospitals are also training facilities, where all future generation training specialists hone their skills under the supervision of an experienced consultant specialist.
It is important to know that there are two waiting lists, one to be assessed first and then another one to have the surgery done. Public funding is limited; hence, patients will be triaged based on their individual circumstances. Cataract surgeries are placed on the lowest urgency as it is a reversible condition. Another point to keep in mind is that you cannot choose type of your lens implant, timing of your surgery or which surgeon will be operating or caring for you.
Private option is the opposite of the public system: You can select your own timing, surgeon and specify preferred premium lens for your operation.
Queensland Eye & Retina
Choice of surgeon
Experienced surgeons only
Anyone including trainee
Approx 1 year + for each eye
Choice of IOL lens
Private day hospital
Known gap for insured
Same treating doctor
Why choose us?
We are a fully equipped clinic with a trained professional team. Our ethos is to provide the ultimate premium service. We value old fashioned customer service, and we will not treat you like a number. You will get ample chair time with the ophthalmologists who are experienced operators.
Our receptionists are friendly and there is triaging line that we provide for our patients should any concerns arise during your recovery process.
Our clinicians are separated from the administration and billing team, clinical opinions provided are without bias or financial incentive. The ophthalmologists at Queensland Eye & Retina Specialists have undergone further subspecialty training and would be experienced in dealing with complicated cataract cases such as:
- Extremely short or long sightedness
- Weak capsular structure where there is risk of rupture during the surgery
- Combination of retinal disease such as epiretinal membrane, macular hole
- Symptomatic floaters
- Subluxed or dislocated lens
- Diabetic eye disease
- Dense or hard cataract
- Trauma induced cataract
- Surgical induced cataract
- Droopy eyelid