Clouds Are Forming Overhead

Cataracts cause a cloudiness in the eye’s natural lens. This lens is used to focus light, and once the tissue becomes opaque, images can appear blurry or fuzzy. Eventually, cataracts can lead to difficulty or inability to perform daily tasks like driving or reading.

Why surgery?

Currently, the only method to remove a cataractous lens is through surgery. During the procedure, the surgeon usually breaks the cataract into pieces using either ultrasound or a laser. The physician then enters the eye and removes each piece of the lens. An artificial intraocular lens, known as an IOL, is placed in the eye to restore clear vision.

Bring on the tests

The eye doctor needs to know what’s going on inside the eye before surgery. Having a clear plan removes many variables and maximizes the chances for success. Therefore, patients should expect a series of pre-operative tests in the days or weeks leading up to the procedure.

Look at those peepers

Most likely, the first course of action will be a full examination of both eyes. The doctor or technician will examine the eye and record current visual ability. Since the surgeon will make an incision on the cornea during the procedure, the tissue will be investigated for abnormalities. An eye pressure check will also take place to ensure values aren’t too high or low for surgery.

Planning for error

Another important part of pre-op testing is the determination of a patient’s refractive error. In other words, how the shape of the eye affects the organ’s ability to focus light without need for correction. Understanding this crucial component gives the ophthalmologist a better idea of how to restore clear sight after cataract removal.

Take a look inside

The exam culminates with dilating one or both eyes so the eye doctor can look inside. Doing so allows areas such as the retina and optic nerve normally not visible to be checked for issues. Any underlying problems need to be documented and considered before cataract surgery takes place.

Give me your measurements

Nearly every patient receives an artificial lens during cataract surgery. A series of biometric tests called an Ascan must take place to calculate which lens to use. These measurements determine the length of the eye and the curvature of the cornea. Values are unique to each patient and give the surgeon a range of lenses to choose from. The final decision is made based on the patient’s visual preference after surgery.

From Ascan to Bscan

In rare cases, the cataractous lens is too thick for standard biometric machines to see through. The technician will then use an ultrasound probe called a Bscan. Sound waves travel through the opaque lens without issue to get accurate measurements.

The past is important

A thorough analysis of the eye is important, but doctors must also feel confident that individuals are healthy enough for surgery. In the weeks leading up to the procedure, a history and physical (H&P) must take place to determine just that. The nurse or doctor will ask questions about a patient’s medical history while checking blood pressure, pulse, and respiration.

Be a team player

The clinical staff will be sure to collect all necessary information leading up to surgery. To help the process, bring a recent glasses prescription and a list of medications taken so doctors are aware. If possible, make notes of any past medical concerns and a family history of issues as well. Pre-op testing is not a quick process, but every test plays a role in the best surgical experience possible.