Know Your Cataract

Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s normally clear natural lens, which is essential for seeing. The disease is mainly age-related and may begin developing between 40 and 50 but can take years to mature. If left to grow, cataracts can cause reversible blindness in the affected eye.

One way street

At this time, the only way to treat cataracts is through surgery. Surgeons will typically recommend removing cataracts when a patient’s best-corrected vision starts to decline, long before total blindness sets in. The procedure takes place in a sterile operating room and usually lasts 10 to 15 minutes.

Follow the procedure

When prepping for surgery, the eye is carefully numbed to avoid discomfort. Anesthesia may also be administered to relax the entire body. To remove the cataract, the ophthalmologist first makes a small incision on the surface of the eye. After breaking up and removing the cataract with a probe, the physician places an artificial lens in the same place.

Heading home

Immediately following the operation, the doctor or nurse will monitor the individual until the anesthesia begins to wear off. Once the staff is satisfied, the patient will be released to go home. Driving is not allowed, however, since anesthesia can remain in the system for upwards of 24 hours. Individuals living alone may want a friend or family member to stay the night as an extra layer of caution.

Those feelings are normal

Feeling should start returning to the eye shortly after surgery, but vision may take a few days to stabilize. Grittiness, slight redness, and watering are all normal side effects. Many patients describe feeling like an object is in the eye due to mild irritation from the incision.

Extreme measures

Having some discomfort immediately after the procedure is normal, and the doctor may recommend over-the-counter remedies. Contact the physician immediately if experiencing vision loss, severe pain or redness, light flashes or floaters, nausea, or eyelid swelling.

Drop it over there

When leaving the surgery center, patients are given eye drops to use at regular intervals. The quantity and dosage of drops can vary but may include an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, or artificial tears. These should be taken exactly as instructed by the ophthalmologist to reduce the likelihood of infection, swelling, and irritation.

To do

While recovering from cataract surgery, rest and sleep go a long way. Be sure to wear the eye shield as required by the healthcare specialist when sleeping. Showering is normally okay as long as water and shampoo don’t get in the eye. There’s no issue with watching TV, reading, or doing light activities.

Or not to do

Don’t rub the surgical eye if at all possible. Similarly, steer clear of dusty or dirty environments. Stay out of the pool, avoid eye makeup, and limit strenuous activity for the time being. Any of these can lead to complications and infection.

Follow the leader

The doctor will request follow-up visits after surgery to monitor the condition of the eye. A visit the morning after the procedure and one to two weeks after that is common. During these check-ups, the surgeon will adjust drop use and advise when activities like driving and swimming can resume. For patients needing glasses after surgery, expect one more follow-up roughly a month after the operation.