If you’re an adult experiencing cloudy vision with sensitivity to light, you may be suffering from cataracts. There are many types of cataracts, although generally it affects both lenses in your eyes though at a different rate so you may feel that one eye is worse than the other. In many people, aging is the most likely cause but cataracts can also be caused by obesity and diabetes, high blood pressure, or due to long-term use of steroids.
There are several tests doctors use to confirm the diagnosis, but the only way to remove cataracts is by surgery where your clouded natural lens will be replaced with a clear artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). This replacement is done to one eye at a time, usually four weeks apart.
These days, cataract surgery is a common, everyday procedure that you don’t need to be afraid of. The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery estimates cataract surgery’s success rate to be 98% or higher. To ease your mind further, read on to discover what goes on in a cataract surgery.
Before the Procedure
Your doctor will take a measurement of your eye to determine the proper IOL focus. You will also be given eye drops to use pre-surgery. Inform your doctor of the medication you are taking because some of these may need to be stopped for a period of time before surgery.
During the Procedure
You may not be allowed to eat for 6 hours pre-surgery. Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, so arrange your transportation to and from the clinic beforehand. Before starting, the doctor will give you numbing eye drops and medicine to help you relax. A tiny incision will be made using laser or blade near the edge of the cornea to reach the lens in your eyes. The cloudy lens will then be removed and replaced with an IOL. There is usually no need to stitch the incision because it is self-sealing. An eye shield will be placed over the treated eye for protection, and you will be allowed to rest for 15 to 30 minutes while the doctor monitors your condition. After that, you are ready to go home.
After the Procedure
The doctor will give you eye drops to use after surgery and may advise you to use protective glasses or eye shield for several days, including when you sleep. Don’t rub your eyes and wear makeup or facial cream, and avoid getting water into the eye. Avoid heavy physical activity until your doctor allows it.
As with any other procedure, there may be risks and complications in cataract surgery. Don’t neglect your follow-up appointment to minimize these problems. For more information, consult with your eye doctor.
Cataracts Symptoms and Causes, MayoClinic.org
Facts about Cataract, NEI.nih.gov
Cataract Surgery, AAO.org