Does your vision get blurry on occasion? Do you sometimes experience double vision? Are you getting prescriptions for stronger eyeglasses or contacts? These are possible signs that you may be developing cataracts around the lenses of your eyes.
A cataract is a mass of proteins that forms on the lens usually due to age-related complications, injury of the tissue that make up the lens, or an inherited genetic disorder. Unfortunately, once cataracts have formed, there’s no medication or eyewear that can reverse their effects. The best and only option to clear your vision is surgery.
Cataract surgery is quite common among older adults and has very few risks. If you’re about to undergo your first procedure here’s what you can expect.
Before the Procedure
A week or two prior to your surgery your ophthalmologist will perform a comprehensive eye examination to determine the size of the cataract and the size and shape of your lens to choose the best surgical replacement.
During the Procedure
When you arrive at the medical facility you will be required to lie on an operating table. You will receive a sedative to help you relax and a local anesthesia to numb the area. This means you’ll be awake throughout the procedure but you won’t feel pain.
The ophthalmologist will make a tiny incision in the front of your eye. They’ll insert a thin long needle that transmits ultrasound waves to probe the lens substance, break it up and suction out the fragments. They’ll then put in the replacement lens and close the incision.
The surgery is an outpatient procedure so you won’t need to stay overnight. You won’t be able to drive either so make sure you have someone to take you home.
Recovery Following Surgery
After the surgery you’ll experience some mild discomfort and itching in your eye. This is normal and expected. The doctor will provide you with medication for this. Resist rubbing your eye as this may cause complications that can slow down your healing.
In the days that follow your vision will begin improving – albeit probably slowly. At first your vision may be blurry, but that’s also normal since your eye is healing and adjusting to the new lens. Colors may also seem brighter than usual. That’s because your previous lens was tinted, which muted how things really looked.
The ophthalmologist will recommend an eye patch after the surgery for a few days to aid the healing. In about eight weeks you should experience full recovery. Should you experience swelling of the eyelids, redness, persistent pain, loss of vision, or any other symptoms contact your ophthalmologist immediately. This may be a sign that blood vessels in the retina are leaking. The ophthalmologist will repair the damage leading to a full recovery.