Many people develop cataracts as they get older, especially if they have conditions such as diabetes, if they take certain medications, or if they smoke. Cataracts are a clouding of the lenses that cover the eyes and they require surgery to correct. If you’re considering cataract surgery, here are some things of which you need to be aware.
Surgery Replaces Lenses
The purpose of the surgery is to replace the clouded lenses with clear ones so you can see better. The new lenses are called intraocular lenses and are artificial implants. The implants are safe and will last most people for the rest of their lives.
When the problem is discovered, either by an optometrist or your doctor, you will be referred to an ophthalmologist who will perform the surgery once he or she diagnoses the cataracts. Most cataract surgeries take plan in the ophthalmologist’s office, though they could be done in a hospital if you have other medical conditions that may complicate the surgery.
Two Types of Surgeries
There are two types of cataract surgeries ophthalmologists perform: small incision surgery and extracapsular surgery.
The small incision cataract operation is the most common one performed. After numbing your eyes with drops or sedating you, a small incision is made on the edge of the cornea. A very small ultrasound probe is then inserted to soften and break up the clouded lens. The pieces are removed and the lens is replaced with the implant.
When an extracapsular cataract surgery is done, the doctor makes a slightly longer incision to remove the clouded lens in one piece. Then, the implant replaces it and the incision is closed. Surgery can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending if there are complications.
Recovery from Surgery
Recovering from surgery is a gradual process and it can take up to 10 weeks to fully recover. However, most people resume their normal activities within two weeks of having it done. The doctor will prescribe eye drops to help speed the healing process and you will usually wear an eye patch after surgery to protect the eye.
Try to rest after surgery and avoid putting too much pressure on the eye. So, don’t bend over immediately after surgery, try not to sneeze or vomit, and don’t lift heavy weights for several weeks after having it done. If you don’t wear glasses, consider wearing sunglasses when you’re outside to protect your eye from dirt, dust, and debris that can be blown around by the wind.
As your eye heals, it may feel dry or scratchy, but do not rub your eye. If there is some type of debris in it, it could scratch your eye and damage it. Contact the ophthalmologist if your vision hasn’t improved, if it is blurry, or if you’re having eye pain or significant discomfort while you’re recovering. Most surgeries are performed without complications but don’t hesitate to inform the surgeon if you’re having problems after your eye surgery.
You should see significant improvements in your eyesight once surgery has been done so you can resume your normal activities.