So, CCGs think that cataract extraction is of ‘limited clinical value’. We all need to voice our rage at this at every opportunity possible.

Old people have, for too long, been made to feel guilty if asking for a treatment which would sort out any problem that can be dismissed as ‘part of growing old’. The gradual and painless loss of vision caused by cataract is all too easily considered by many as having a minor impact upon life. Throw into the mix the fact that many patients may have only a few years left to live along with the belief (in my view quite wrong) that their lifestyle may not demand as high a visual capability than a younger, more active working person, and you now have the perfect excuse for an administrator to relegate cataract extractions in the priority list for funding from a reduced budget.

A cynic might also add, with some justification, that refusal of NHS funding for cataract removal may be a useful foot in the door for an insidious acceptance of a shift to private health provision.

There is no good argument for restricting access to cataract surgery if it is deemed appropriate by an eye care professional. Cataract extraction is one of the most successful and effective clinical interventions ever introduced. Clear sight is a major influence on all measures of quality of life. Loss of visual acuity and contrast and increased light scatter are a major contributor to falls and injuries requiring expensive treatment. Loss of vision leads to social isolation and increased long term social welfare costs.

Look out for a review of the RCO/BMJ findings along with the latest in cataract research in Optician at the end of this month. If only cataracts were painful and came on quickly… we need to join the RCO in voicing our rage at the short-term cost-driven restriction to cataract
services.