Cataract surgery includes removing the clouded lens in the eye and replacing with a clear but synthetic version. There was a time when this surgery required a few days in the hospital and was followed by a long period of recovery. However, today, it is performed with the help of local anesthesia, and people are deemed fit to resume their lives within days. It has a great success rate and complications in the surgery are comparatively lower.
Reasons for a cataract surgery
Cataract often takes place because of ageing. Cataract formation is a slow process that takes years to occur. Over the years, the lenses of our eyes become thicker, less transparent, and more vulnerable. It is not a surprise, then, that by the age of 80, more than 50 per cent of the people develop cataracts.
It is often hard to distinguish the effects of cataract from other vision changes that happen with progressing age. However, there are some distinct symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Increased nearsightedness
- Difficulty with glare
- Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
- Double vision in one eye
- Dulled colours
When extremely advanced, cataracts may also cause eye redness.
The presence of cataract is detected by looking for cloudiness of the lens or the opacity during a medical eye check-up by an eye-care professional. Various instruments and tests are used to check for the abnormal lens. The main eye tests used include testing for visual acuity, glare sensitivity, colour vision, contrast sensitivity, along with an examination of the other parts of the eye as well.
Who performs cataract surgery?
An ophthalmologist performs the surgery. She is a medical doctor specialized in the diagnosis along with the medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases. He also supervises the preoperative and postoperative care.
Who is a candidate for cataract surgery?
Surgery is often recommended for those who have significant loss in vision and are symptomatic secondary to cataract. However, if you have other unrelated eye diseases limiting your vision, your ophthalmologist may not recommend surgery.
Types of cataract surgery
There are three main techniques for cataract surgery:
Perhaps the most common form, this type of surgery can be performed in 30 minutes and requires minimal sedation. Numbing eye drops or an injection is used around the eye, and a thin ultrasound probe is inserted into the eye to break up the clouded lens. For better comfort and transition to normal, you may be recommended to buy eye patch online after surgery. Although it is not performed using a laser, a femtosecond laser may be used to make an opening in the anterior capsule of the lens.
- Extracapsular cataract surgery
This is usually done for very advanced cataracts when the lens is too dense to dissolve into fragments. It requires a larger incision so that it can be removed in one piece. This surgical technique needs a number of sutures to close the wound, and recovery is slower. Hence it is a good idea to buy an eye patch and a sterile gauze online for the time after the surgery.
- Intracapsular cataract surgery
This procedure requires an even larger wound, and the entire lens along with the surrounding capsule is removed. It requires the intraocular lens to be placed in front of the iris. Even though this procedure is rarely used, it can be crucial in some situations.
What to expect before, during, and after surgery?
- Prior to the day of the surgery, your ophthalmologist will ask you a wide range of questions about your medical history and there will be a brief physical exam. You must discuss all the medications you are on with your ophthalmologist.
- You must remember to follow all the preoperative instructions, which will include not ingesting or drinking anything after midnight, the day before your surgery.
- You must also make arrangements with your family or friends to take you home once the surgery is done.
- You will have to report several hours before the scheduled time of the surgery so that you can meet the anesthesiologist who will then work with your ophthalmologist to decide the sedation required.
- During the procedure, there will be several people in the room, including the ophthalmologist and the operating-room technicians. The surgery usually takes around 20 minutes.
- Once you leave the operating room, you will be taken to a recovery room where the doctor will prescribe some eye drops and medicines to be taken for a few weeks afterwards.