HUNDREDS of warning letters are being sent by health authorities in the south to former eye patients who had cataract surgery up to four years ago.

A fault has been discovered with one brand of replacement lenses which could make them cloud over, resulting in misty vision or glare.

The problem lenses, made by international eye specialists Bausch and Lomb, were all used in operations between September 2000 and March 2001.

Southampton health bosses have contacted all 1,300 patients who underwent cataract surgery at the Southampton Eye Unit or Lymington Hospital between those dates. In Winchester and Eastleigh, about 400 letters are being sent out. In Basingstoke 100 letters are being posted.

A spokesman for Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust said: "Many cataract patients are elderly and they may assume the gradual mistiness in their vision is something they just have to put up with. But we want them to get into touch with the NHS Direct helpline if they are experiencing any problems so they can be booked into special review clinics if needed."

Southampton Eye Unit director Ruth Manners said that only a small number of people were likely to be affected by cloudy lenses.

The NHS Direct helpline dedicated to calls on this issue is 0845 601 73 15. It is open from 8am to 8pm until Friday.