Surgery – How many cataract surgeries are performed each year in the UK?

Cataract surgery is the most common operation performed in the UK, with extremely high success rates. Pre-pandemic, surgeons in England were performing around 400,000 cataract surgeries per year.  

It’s estimated that, in the UK, 30% of people over the age of 65 have a cataract that affects their vision in one or both eyes.  The majority of cataracts are age-related, and approximately 40% of patients needing surgery for cataracts will have them in both of their eyes. 

Phacoemulsification – a technique that involves using ultrasound to break up the eye’s natural lens and remove the cataract – is the most common method of performing cataract surgery, accounting for over 99% of NHS cataract surgeries performed in the UK. 

Cataract surgery is quick, painless and only takes around 10 minutes to complete. 95% of cataract surgeries are carried out using local anaesthetic – meaning patients don’t need to be put to sleep for the procedure – and, in most cases, they can leave the hospital within 40 minutes of their operation. It can take between 2-6 weeks for patients to fully recover from cataract surgery, but most patients are able to go about their daily lives while their eye is healing. 

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