Cataract surgery is a procedure to remove the lens of your eye and, in most cases, replace it with an artificial lens. Normally, the lens of your eye is clear. A cataract causes the lens to become cloudy, which eventually affects your vision.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSIDER CATARACT SURGERY?
If the cataracts begin to interfere with reading ability, work or other daily activities, cataract surgery may be recommended. If cataracts are in both eyes, surgery will be performed on one eye at a time, frequently two weeks apart. Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the United States.
THE CATARACT SURGERY PROCEDURE
First, your doctor will place eyedrops in your eye to dilate your pupil. You’ll receive local anesthetics to numb the area, and you may be given a sedative to help you relax. If you’re given a sedative, you may remain awake, but groggy, during surgery.
During cataract surgery, the clouded lens is removed, and a clear artificial lens is usually implanted. In some cases, however, a cataract may be removed without implanting an artificial lens.
WHAT CAUSES CATARACTS?
The lens within the eye clouds naturally as we age, causing a gradual reduction of vision. There are numerous other causes of cataracts, including:
- Alcohol use
- Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light
- Family history of cataracts
- Exposure to radiation
- A result of eye surgery
DIAGNOSIS OF CATARACTS
A series of test are performed to diagnose a cataract and to evaluate if you are a candidate for cataract surgery. Some of these might include:
- Ultrasound Biometry
- Corneal Topography
- Optical Coherence Tomography of the Macula
- Dilated direct retinal examination
- Visual Acuity testing
TREATMENT OF CATARACTS
Early cataracts can sometimes be treated with non-surgical methods such as:
- New eyeglass prescription
- Anti-glare sunglasses
- Magnifying lenses
- Installing lighting that is brighter
HOW LONG DOES CATARACT SURGERY TAKE? IS IT PAINFUL?
Cataract surgery, usually an outpatient procedure, takes an hour or less to perform.
RECOVERY FROM CATARACT SURGERY
After cataract surgery, expect your vision to begin improving within a few days. Your vision may be blurry at first as your eye heals and adjusts.
Colors may seem brighter after your surgery because you are looking through a new, clear lens. A cataract is usually yellow- or brown-tinted before surgery, muting the look of colors.
You’ll usually see your eye doctor a day or two after your surgery, the following week, and then again after about a month to monitor healing.
It’s normal to feel itching and mild discomfort for a couple of days after surgery. Avoid rubbing or pushing on your eye.
Your doctor may ask you to wear an eye patch or protective shield the day of surgery. Your doctor may also recommend wearing the eye patch for a few days after your surgery and the protective shield when you sleep during the recovery period.
Your doctor may prescribe eyedrops or other medication to prevent infection, reduce inflammation and control eye pressure. Sometimes, these medications can be injected into the eye at the time of surgery.
After a couple of days, most of the discomfort should disappear. Often, complete healing occurs within eight weeks.