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Waiting times for NHS cataract surgery increase 84% in England

New data reveals that patients who received cataract surgery in 2021 had waited an average of nine months or more

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Pixabay/ congerdesign

Data from 12 NHS hospitals across London and Bedfordshire has revealed a significant increase in waiting times for cataract surgery between 2019 and 2021.

Waiting times increased 35% from 2019 to 2020 and 36% from 2020 to 2021.

Patients who received cataract surgery in 2021 had waited an average of nine months or more.

The longest waiting time, reported by King’s College Hospital, was 94 weeks, while the shortest waiting time, at Luton & Dunstable University Hospital, was 10 weeks.

Consultant ophthalmic surgeon at OCL Vision, Mr Ali Mearza, highlighted that longer waiting times make cataract surgery more difficult to perform.

“Patients with cataracts may no longer meet the driving standard of vision, they may have more frequent falls which can result in other problems, or they may not be able to read,” he shared.

He added that a longer waiting time means the lens becomes harder and more ultrasound power is required to remove the lens.

“If cataracts are left for many years, the risk of complications goes up significantly,” Mearza said.