Cataract Surgery – Overview, Procedure, Results & Risks
Cataract is the eye condition in which the eye lens becomes cloudy affecting your vision and making it hard for you to clearly see things. It is most common among older people but people of other age groups can also have it. Cataract Surgery is the most common and effective treatment for Cataract in which the cloudy lens is removed and replaced by an artificial lens. It improves your eye sight so that you can perform your daily activities easily. The procedure of Cataract Surgery is safe and effective.
Let’s see the details of the procedure of Cataract Surgery, its results and possible risks associated with it:
Who should have Cataract Surgery?
If you have Cataract then it doesn’t mean that you have to get the surgery. Some people, who have initial symptoms of Cataract that are not severe, can see clearly by using prescription glasses or magnifying lens. If the condition is not harming your eye and you have still a good vision then you may not need the surgery.
When Cataract grows with the time, its symptoms start becoming severe and affecting your daily activities. If you start noticing following symptoms then surgery is the best option for you:
- A dim, blur, yellow or double vision which makes hard for you to read, write or work on computer and any other activity that requires clear eyesight.
- You may have poor night vision which makes difficult for you to drive at night.
- You may become more sensitive to glare from sun.
- You may see halos around bright lights. This makes it difficult for you to play outdoor activities or sports such as skiing or golf.
Sometimes, it becomes necessary to have a Cataract Surgery even if it is not bothering your activities. The doctor may recommend the surgery if a Cataract is interfering with the treatment of any other eye problem.
What to expect before the surgery?
One or two weeks before the surgery, the doctor performs some tests to measure size and shape of eye so that he/she can choose the best artificial lens implant for your eye. The artificial lens is called as intraocular lens (IOL) which improves the vision by focusing the light on back of the eye. Even you will not see or feel the lens and it becomes a permanent part of the eye. There is variety of IOLs available with different features. Before the surgery, you and your doctor will discuss and determine right type of IOL that works best for you and your routine activities by considering benefits and complications of different types of IOLs. These lenses are made of plastic, silicone or acrylic. Many IOLs are flexible which requires small incision with few stitches; while some are rigid that requires several stitches for implantation.
Some other points to consider before the surgery:
- The doctor may advise you to stop taking certain medications that could increase the risk of bleeding while performing the surgery, so make sure to tell the details of each medication that you are taking, to the doctor.
- Antibiotics eye drops may also be recommended to use 1 or 2 days before surgery as they reduce the risk of infection during the surgery.
- Doctor may also recommend you not to drink or eat anything 12 hours before surgery.
What to expect during Cataract Surgery?
The procedure is usually outpatient, which means that you do not have to stay in hospital after surgery and it is performed by ophthalmologist (eye doctor). The time to perform the surgery is usually one hour or less.
At first, the doctor places eye drops in your eye to dilate the pupil. After that, local anesthesia is given to numb the area and you may also be given a sedative to make you feel relax during the surgery.
During the surgery, the doctor removes the clouded lens and implants artificial lens. There are various methods used to surgically remove the Cataract, which include:
With the use of an ultrasound probe:
This method to remove the Cataract is called as Phacoemulsification, in which the surgeon makes a very small incision in front of the eye and then inserts needle-thin probe into the lens where Cataract is formed. The surgeon then uses the inserted probe, that transmits ultrasound waves to break up (emulsify) the Cataract and fragments are suctioned out. The very back of the lens or lens capsule remains left intact which later serve as the place for artificial lens. The small incision then closed with stitches at the end of the procedure.
Using advanced laser-assisted technique for cloudy lens removal:
During this method, the surgeon uses laser to make the incision and to soften the Cataract for easy removal.
Removing lens in one piece:
Method to remove the Cataract is called as extra-capsular cataract extraction which requires a large incision in the eye than phacoemulsification. Through this large incision, the surgeon uses surgical tools for removing front capsule of lens and cloudy portion of lens. The back of the lens capsule is left in place that serves the place for artificial lens to rest. At the end of the procedure, large incision is closed with stitches.
When the Cataract has been removed through anyone of these methods then the artificial lens is implanted into empty lens capsule.
What to expect after the surgery?
You may feel itching in your eye or sore for few days after the treatment, along with some fluid discharge but these are common. The doctor gives you eye drops to avoid the infection. You need to follow instructions as given by the doctor after the treatment, which include:
- Avoid driving for few days.
- Avoid bending over, pick up heavy things or put any pressure on the eye.
- For the first week, you need to sleep in an eye shield which protects the site of surgery so that your eye can heal.
If you feel pain in your eye or you feel that your eye isn’t healing then immediately consults your doctor.
What are the results of the surgery?
After around eight weeks of the surgery, your eye will be healed. The surgery successfully restores the vision in majority of patients who have had it.
What are the side effects or risks associated with the surgery?
It is safe but still there are some side effects or complications of Cataract Surgery which are very rare and can be treated, include:
- Eye infection or swelling
- Drooping eyelid
- Feeling of pressure inside an eye
- Retinal detachment
- Dislocation or loosening of new implanted lens
- Fluid build-up in eye
- Secondary Cataract
- Loss of vision
Remember, that the risk of complications is greater if you have another eye disease or problem such as Glaucoma or Macular Degeneration. Cataract Surgery fails to improve vision due to the underlying damage to the eye from other eye conditions. So, it is recommended that it is better to thoroughly evaluate and treat all the eye diseases or problems before deciding about Cataract Surgery.
Consult eye specialists at Menger Eye Center in New York:
The eye specialists at Menger Eye Center are highly recommended to treat Cataract with the most effective surgical procedure that gives you the best results. Extensive years of experience and advanced training make our specialists capable to effectively perform the surgery that truly improves your vision. So, if you’re experiencing Cataract or any of its symptoms then schedule an appointment with our specialists.