A cataract is a clouding in an eye's lens that ultimately causes vision loss. Cataracts form slowly and are more prevalent in persons over 55 years old. There is no proven way to prevent cataracts, but quitting smoking helps decrease the likelihood that they will develop. A cataract surgery essentially helps correct this disorder by replacing the cloudy lens with an artificial one. Fortunately, the modern cataract surgery is a simple outpatient procedure. Before deciding on having this surgery, however, here's what you should know.
When to Consider the Surgery
Not everyone with cataracts will require surgery. In the early stages, this issue can be corrected by wearing glasses. The surgery should only be considered when vision worsens dramatically over time. When you especially start experiencing difficulties in everyday activities such as reading or driving, see an ophthalmologist for a diagnosis.
Types of Surgery
There are two types of cataract surgeries that are viable at the moment:
- Small-incision cataract surgery – Small-incision cataract surgery (SICS) is the mainstream surgical procedure that involves making an incision into the cornea. The surgeon then breaks up the cloudy lens by use of ultrasound, after which a new artificial lens is inserted in its place.
- Extracapsular surgery – This involves making an incision in the cornea large enough for the surgeon to take out the cloudy lens in one piece. This is usually the back-up procedure in case SICS fails.
Preparation for the Surgery
Prior to the surgery, your optometrist will conduct an eye examination and inspect the overall health of your eyes and your medical history. The surgeon will then conduct a refraction test to determine the correct lens to pick for the best vision. Some doctors may recommend that you don't eat or drink for 6 hours before the surgery. Since the surgery directly affects sight, it is advised that you have transport from the clinic arranged.
What to Expect During and After Surgery
The entire operation is pretty straightforward and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. For most people, an anaesthetic will be administered to numb the eye in the form of an injection or eye drops. You will be awake during the entire procedure as the surgeon makes an incision on your cornea. People who require surgery on both eyes, however, usually get both surgeries several weeks apart. The surgery involves no stitches, and the wound heals on its own in a matter of days.
Overall, the procedure is almost risk-free with low chances of complications. Once you are at home, the main focus remains to protect the eye from infection. The surgeon will most likely prescribe you some eye drops and call you for follow-up check-ups to ensure the eye recuperates as expected.