Cataract Surgery: What is it?
What To Expect Before And During Cataract Surgery:
Post Op Examination: What Your Eye Doctor Will Look For:
What You Can Do:
When To Call Your M.D.:
Prognosis: Will I See Better?
Once your eye doctor has diagnosed a cataract that is affecting your vision, using surgery to remove the cloudy lens is the only way to treat it. In small -incision surgery, a very small opening of about an eighth of an inch is made in the eye, and an ultrasound instrument breaks the cataract into small pieces and then removes them. Once a permanent, clear, artificial lens implant is then inserted inside the eye in place of the natural lens to help focus light. A stitch may or may not be used to close the small opening in the eye at the end of the operation. Your eye surgeon performs this extremely delicate surgery with a powerful magnifying microscope.
Once you and your eye doctor have decided to have your cataract removed, your eye will be measured in the office for the new artificial implant. Your surgery will usually be an outpatient or same-day surgery, meaning that if your surgery goes well, you will come to the hospital the day of the surgery and go home after the operation on the same day. You will be asked not to eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery to avoid having an upset stomach during your surgery.
Most patients are not put completely to sleep for cataract surgery, but instead may be given intravenous sedation to relax, as well as numbing eye drops or a numbing injection around the eye. During the surgery, you may hear your surgeon speak or the sound of instruments working, and you may see bright lights and changing colors, but you will not see the details of the actual surgery. Near the end, the microscope light may become very bright as your lens implant is fitted inside your eye.
Once the surgery is over, your doctor may put a small shield over your eye to protect it. You will also be asked to use special eye drops after the surgery. Your eye doctor will most likely see you the next morning and several times afterward. You will likely need a new glasses prescription several weeks after your surgery.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, only one eye is treated at a time. Usually the second cataract can be removed several months later.
During your eye exams after cataract surgery, your eye doctor checks for inflammation, infection, and proper position of the lens implant.
Make sure you take all medicines and eye drops as directed. After surgery, your doctor may ask you to wear glasses during the day and an eye shield while sleeping to protect your eye. Avoid dusty or dirty areas, and do not bend over at the waist. Ask your doctor when you can return to driving and your usual physical activity.
While cataract surgery usually goes very well, every surgery has risks of complications. Possible complications of cataract surgery include bleeding, infection, needing further surgery, a poor cosmetic result, retinal detachment, high eye pressure, and extremely rarely, even loss of vision, or the eye itself. After surgery, you should call your eye doctor immediately if your vision worsens, if you have eye pain not relieved by over-the-counter pain medication, if you vomit, if you injure your eye, or if anything seems worse.
Cataract surgery is one of the more successful surgeries performed today, and visual improvement is often excellent. Sometimes other eye problems, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, or macular degeneration, can limit your potential vision. However, even with such limits, cataract surgery can still help make your vision brighter or improve your side vision.
Above: A Cataract Operation. Click For A Bigger View (Warning-Extremely Graphic).
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