A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens (it lies behind the iris and the pupil). It works much like a camera lens, focusing light onto the retina at the back of the eye. The lens also adjusts the eye’s focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away. A cataract starts out small and at first has little effect on your vision. You may notice that your vision is blurred a little, like looking through a cloudy piece of glass or viewing an impressionist painting.
A cataract may make light from the sun or a lamp seem too bright or glaring. Or you may notice when you drive at night that the oncoming headlights cause more glare than before. Colors may not appear as bright as they once did.
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The decision for cataract surgery is reached only between your ophthalmologist and you. Usually, this decision is based on the degree to which the patient’s vision is affected and the impact that impairment has on his or her quality of life.
When a patient is significantly bothered by symptoms of cataract, this surgery is usually offered as an option.
The skin around your eye will be thoroughly cleansed while sterile coverings are placed around your head. The whole procedure is done while using an operating microscope, which helps to make a small incision into the eye. Your doctor will either remove the lens as it is or use ultrasound, a laser. A surgical solution can also be used to break it up and then remove it. The posterior capsule (back membrane of the lens) is left in place.
An artificial intraocular lens will be placed inside the eye to replace the natural lens that was removed. The incision is then closed. When stitches are used, they infrequently need to be removed.
When the procedure is over, your ophthalmologist will usually place a shield over your eye. After a short stay in the outpatient recovery area, you will be ready to go home. You should plan to have someone else drive you home.
Patients will usually be asked to return for a follow-up visit later that day or the next day after the procedure, nonetheless, this will be based on individual circumstances. Also depending on the type of incision and surgeon preference, some patients will be asked to wear a shield over the eye, mainly while sleeping. The eye should not be rubbed nor be places under direct pressure through the eyelid during the first few weeks following surgery. Eye drop medications will be required, usually consisting of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medicines. These will often be tapered off during the first month after surgery.
Many patients are surprised at how clear their vision is after this surgery. Some patients may have better vision than they ever did before a cataract procedure. Additionally, depending on the degree of refractive error (need for glasses) prior to surgery, many patients will be much less dependent on glasses for far vision than they were before surgery. Patients will often notice that colors are brighter and more brilliant. The results are often dramatic. If you experience pain, have an unusual discharge from the eye or suffer a sudden change in your vision, you should contact your eye doctor straight away.
Cataract surgery is a common operation that is very straightforward and, in most cases, successful. However, as with all types of surgery, there are some possible side effects. Nonetheless, most side effects are temporary. These can include:
. Blurred vision for a few days after the operation.
. You can experience redness or itchiness on the white part of your eye.
. A certain degree of pain but this usually settles down within 10-14 days.
. Bruised eyelids or eye.
The most common complication of this operation is posterior capsular opacification. This occurs when the part of lens casing (capsule) is left inside the eye following the operation and becomes cloudy (opacifies). This doesn’t happen straight away and may take several months, or even years, leading to reduced vision that is similar to having a cataract. However, it can usually be corrected by laser treatment.
In order to keep the risks at a bare minimum, please make sure that you follow your surgeons instructions at all times.
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