Cataract Treatment

Cataracts are cloudy areas that develop in the lens of the eye. A normal lens should be clear. However with cataracts, there is a gradual change in the structure of the lens in the eye, slowly making it more and more cloudy.

In a normal eye, light is focused by the cornea and the lens to form a sharp image on the retina at the back of the eye. As we get older, the lens can become hazy. This makes the vision rather blurred or hazy even when wearing the correct spectacles.

**From £2,950

How are cataracts treated?

An early cataract may not cause a noticeable problem with your vision, but the rate of decline varies from person to person. Many people will choose to have their cataracts treated in the early stages, if their ability to function normally is impacted, such as finding it hard to read the paper, drive or cook.

Cataracts can’t be treated with medicines, eye drops or lasers; the only way to treat them is with an operation. Around 300,000 cataract operations are performed in the UK each year. The operation involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial plastic lens or intraocular implant. This straightforward procedure usually takes around 30-45 minutes and you can go home the same day.

Get your cataracts diagnosed

A cataract is normally easily detectable by a doctor or optometrist during an eye exam. If you have spotty or cloudy vision or see halos around bright lights, book an appointment with our cataract Consultants today.

What to expect when you have cataract surgery

At St John & St Elizabeth Hospital, we pride ourselves on offering a first-rate level of service.
Your healthcare journey will begin with an assessment to diagnose your cataracts and make sure you’re well enough for surgery. We treat every patient as a person, not a number, which means you’ll receive a personalised treatment plan overseen by your cataract Consultant. We encourage you to ask questions and share any concerns you may have about your treatment so that we can reassure you.

Coming into hospital

We aim to make your stay as comfortable as possible and our Admissions Team is happy to talk you through how to pay for your treatment, so that it’s all arranged before you come into hospital.
When you arrive, we’ll show you to your room. Here, an Ophthalmic Nurse or member of our Admissions Team will explain your care plan, show you round the facilities and make sure you’re settled.

The procedure

Cataract surgery is performed under local anaesthetic, which means you’ll be awake during the operation. Don’t worry – you won’t feel any pain as your eye will be numbed beforehand. You will see some light and movement, but you won’t be able to feel what your cataract surgeon is doing.

Once the eye is numb, your surgeon will make a tiny hole in the front of the eye at the edge of the cornea (the clear outer layer at the front of the eye). The cloudy lens will be taken out and a clear plastic lens will be inserted in its place. You’ll be able to choose between a standard lens (this has no focusing capability, so you’ll still have to wear glasses if you needed them before the operation), a multifocal lens, or an accommodating lens, which will allow you to focus on both near and distant objects. Your consultant will talk you through the options available before your surgery. Usually, the incision is small enough that no stitches are needed,but you’ll have to wear a pad over your eye afterwards.

Once your operation is finished, you’ll be taken back to your room. The local anaesthetic will wear off a few hours after your surgery, and you’ll usually be able to go home on the same day.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, generally you’ll have surgery on one eye first, then on the other 6 – 12 weeks later, to allow each eye time to recover.

Our Eye Clinic

Our Eye Clinic offers exceptional diagnosis, intervention and aftercare for all eye conditions, using modern treatment techniques and cutting-edge diagnostics for all eye complaints.

Frequently asked questions

How much does cataract surgery cost?

Cataract surgery at St John & St Elizabeth Hospital starts from £2,950 and includes:

Cataracts – Unilateral (C7122)

Consultation Fee £200
Anaesthetist Fee £270
Surgeon Fee £750
Hospital Fee £1,730
Follow Up Fee Included In Surgeons Fee
Final Price £2,950


  • Consultation with Consultant
  • Pre-operative assessment
  • Hospital fee (accommodation, theatre and consumables)
  • Surgeon & Anaesthetist fee
  • 1 x follow up appointment

Length Of Stay:

Price covers a day stay only.

Please Note:

Price covers standard procedures only, more complex procedures are excluded from this package.

What are the different types of cataracts?

Age-related cataract 
Age-related cataracts affect older people and are by far the most common form of cataracts. In the UK, about one in three people over the age of 65 have a cataract, with men and women being equally at risk. Often, both eyes are affected, though one eye may be worse than the other.
Age-related cataracts often form gradually over many years. As the effects are gradual, many people with an early-stage cataract don’t realise, as their eye has no cloudy patches. In some people, the cataract won’t become too severe, but in most cases, vision becomes gradually worse over time.

Congenital cataracts (present at birth)
These are uncommon and often diagnosed early. A congenital cataract stops the eye from learning to see, and since vision is learned very early on in infancy, these can cause blindness that may persist even if the cataract is removed later in life. As such, a congenital cataract needs to be removed as soon as possible after birth.

Other types of cataract
Cataracts can stem from an injury to an eye or as a result of radiation exposure, although this is rare. Cataracts can sometimes develop as a secondary problem for people with diabetes or other eye conditions

What causes cataracts?

The cause of age-related cataracts is still not fully understood, though it appears to be linked to a change in the make-up of the proteins in the lens. One theory is that the fluids and nutrients getting into the lens are disturbed as you get older. This can result in some of the proteins clotting together within the lens, causing small, cloudy areas to appear. As these deposits build up, light passing through the retina is partially blocked, affecting your vision. The severity of the cataract depends on the number of cloudy areas that develop.

Some factors may increase your risk of developing cataracts, including:

  • Smoking
  • Having diabetes
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Long-term use of steroids
  • Excessive exposure to UV light from the sun or tanning beds
  • Having a family history of cataracts.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

At first, you may notice your vision becoming a little blurred. With time, you may notice some of the following:

  • Spots in your vision
  • Seeing halos around bright lights – e.g. street lights
  • Not being able to see as well in brightly-lit rooms or sunshine
  • Your colour vision beginning to fade
  • Your vision gradually getting worse, even if you wear glasses.

Depending on the severity of the cataract, the effects can range from slightly blurred vision to complete blindness.

How long will it take to recover after cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is a quick and painless procedure, and you should be able to go home on the same day as your operation. You may have a dressing over your treated eye when you leave hospital, which can normally be removed at home the next day. It can take a couple of days for your vision to fully return, and you may feel that your eye is gritty and watering.

Your cataract consultant will explain how to take care of your eye at home, book a follow-up appointment to monitor your recovery and prescribe eye drops to help your eye heal and prevent infection. It’s important to use your eye drops as instructed and take it easy for a few days as your vision starts to return. You can read and watch TV, but you should avoid strenuous exercise, wearing make-up and rubbing your eyes.

It can take four to six weeks to recover fully after cataract surgery, but it has a very high success rate.

If you wore glasses before your operation, you’ll still need to wear them. If you need new glasses, you should wait six weeks for your eye to completely heal before ordering them.

Are there side effects of cataract surgery?

After surgery, it’s completely normal to feel grittiness in your eye because the surface of the eye has been disturbed. This can last for several weeks and will gradually feel better as your eye heals.

For the first few days after your operation, your eye might be red and your vision blurry. This should improve quickly, but you should take it easy until your vision is back to normal.

Our expert Consultants

Dr Nick Koutroumanos

Mr Riaz Asaria

Professor Riaz Asaria

Mr Jason Ho

Why choose John & Lizzie’s?

We’re London’s leading charitable hospital

As a registered charity, all surplus from our hospital helps fund our on-site St John’s Hospice, which provides free palliative care for more than 4,500 people living with life-limiting illnesses, and their families each year. Every time you visit the hospital as a patient, you directly support St John’s and help us to continue our vital work in the community.

We also reinvest profits into the hospital to continually improve our facilities, offer the latest innovative technologies, and attract the very best Consultants.

We’re renowned for our world-class Consultants

The multidisciplinary team in our Eye Clinic consists of ophthalmic surgeons, orthoptists, medical photographers, paediatric ophthalmologists, paediatric optometrists and nurses trained in ophthalmic procedures. We’re proud to be the Hospital of choice for London’s leading Consultants, who are committed to our values and our tradition of care and compassion.

We offer competitive rates and the best care

If you choose to pay for your own treatment, you’ll be given full transparency of costs from the very beginning, starting with your first consultation with us. If you have health insurance, our Admissions Team will work closely with you to ensure you have all the information you need for your insurer.

We invest in state-of-the-art facilities

In 2019, our wards underwent a £2.1 million refurbishment, providing patients with modern ensuite rooms, each fitted with a Bluetooth controlled air-conditioning system, smart TVs and stylish fixtures and fittings. This year, we’ve opened our new wing, bringing three floors of brand-new facilities housing modern theatres, the latest equipment and comfortable rooms filled with natural light.

Book an appointment

Paying for yourself?
If you’re paying for your own treatment, you don’t need a referral from your GP for a consultation. Simply refer yourself* and book an appointment on 02070783848.

Using health insurance?
If you have health insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa, Aviva), contact your insurer to get authorisation before any treatment. In most cases, you will also need to get a referral letter from your GP. If you’re not registered with a GP, you can use our in-house private GP practice.

*Please note – for tests and scans such as X-rays, MRIs and blood tests, a referral will be needed. However, we may be able to arrange this for you through our on-site private GP.

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