Cataract Eye Surgery: Procedure, Benefits and Risks
Did you know that cataracts cause more vision problems globally than any other eye condition or disease? According to the National Eye Institute, more than half of the population in the United States have reported having cataracts or undergone cataract surgery by the time they get to 70 years of age.
A cataract can be described as a cloudy area that develops when proteins in your eye form clumps that inhibit the lens from sending clear images to the retina. This lens is important as it focuses the light, enabling your brain and eye to work in tandem to process information into a picture.
Cataracts develop gradually as you age and are more common in older people.
Although cataracts are not quite common in children, some children are born with the condition. This occurs in instances where during the pregnancy, the lens did not form as it should.
What are The Symptoms of Cataracts?
Since cataracts develop gradually, most people may not know they have them when in the beginning stages. However, you should be keen to look out for some of these common symptoms:
- Having blurry vision and trouble seeing at night.
- Seeing colors as having faded.
- Being extra sensitive to light.
- Double vision in the eye that has been affected.
- A constant need for frequent changes in prescription glasses.
- Halos around lights and bright objects.
- Worsened or no vision in dim light.
- Difficulty in reading and eventually impossible.
- Irritation from glare during the day.
- Difficulty driving at night.
Who Should Have Cataract Eye Surgery?
When a cataract has developed to an extent that it causes you vision change, it may be time to seek medical intervention. However, the degree to which cataracts interfere with vision varies from person to person. Most people above the age of 60 years are most likely to be affected by cataracts thus requiring surgery.
Sometimes cataract surgery is needed to treat other eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy.
Why is Cataract Surgery Done?
When cataracts are left untreated for a long time, they can develop to an extent that they interfere with your daily activities and can even lead to blindness.
Even though some may stop growing, cataracts do not get smaller on their own. That is where surgery comes in. Cataract surgery is a very common procedure and has proven highly effective, with a success rate of roughly 90%, according to statistics by National Eye Institute. Once the surgery is done, you are able to see better and chances of recurrence are minimal.
What are The Benefits of Cataract Eye Surgery?
Cataracts can interfere with your daily routine as well as your sense of independence by affecting your vision. The risks involved in undergoing the surgery are by far outweighed by the benefits that are derived thereof.
Some of the reasons why it is advised to undergo a cataract surgery include;
Improve your vision
The procedure involves the replacement of your clouded natural lens with a clear artificial lens. You will experience better vision without feeling or seeing this new lens. Objects appear more clear and crisp, with colors brighter as soon as a day after the surgery.
Boost your quality of life
Poor vision as a result of cataracts may make it harder for you to conduct your daily tasks, play sports or enjoy other activities that you like to do. This may have a negative effect on your mood and self-confidence and ultimately your mental health. With a successful surgery giving you your sight back, you can go back to doing the things that make you happy in life.
Protect your eye health
Cataracts can develop other eye problems such as inflammation. Glaucoma is a common disease that develops as a result of increased pressure inside your eye. These make it harder for doctors to prevent or treat such eye problems. Cataract surgery can prevent these complications thus protecting your vision.
Keep you safer
Cataract surgery gives you back good vision. This reduces the chances of accidents occasioned by poor vision. Cataracts can adversely affect your ability to drive at night exposing you to fatal road accidents. It is safer to drive a car or operate other machinery when you do not have cataracts.
What are the risks associated with cataract surgery?
A few years back a cataract surgery required you to take several days of hospitalization and periods of recovery but today, the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. Thanks to improved technology, the success rate is high with relatively low complications.
Although complications arising from cataract surgery are uncommon, they exist and can be treated successfully. Some of the risks involved include;
- Drooping eyelid
- Secondary cataract
- Loss of vision
- Retinal detachment
- Dislocation of artificial lens
How should I prepare for cataract surgery?
Preparation before surgery is important to ensure that you are healthy enough to undergo the procedure. Although it is a routine operation, preparation helps in boosting your confidence and avoiding any anxiety.
One week before surgery
The doctor will carry out a comprehensive eye exam to check for cataracts and test your vision which will allow him to determine which lens implant to use during your procedure. You may need to arrange with a friend or relative to drive you to the hospital for follow-up visits as well as plan for the day of the surgery ahead of time.
Night before surgery
Your eye doctor may give you medication to take or eye drops to use before the surgery. It is important to avoid alcohol or any other intoxicant the night before your cataract surgery. Abstain from eating past midnight and try to get a good comfortable night of sleep. A good night’s rest will allow you to wake up fresh and relaxed on the day of your surgery.
Day of surgery
Avoid eating or drinking on the morning of your cataract surgery. Put on comfortable dressing, refraining from using any makeup or cosmetics. Keep time and preferably arrive at least half an hour before your scheduled surgery to allow you time to relax, fill out any paperwork or make any last-minute inquiries.
The actual procedure should take two hours. Afterward, the doctor will give you further instructions on the recovery process and any medication if any.
What happens during cataract eye surgery?
Over the years cataract surgery has dramatically evolved resulting in high success rates with patients experiencing excellent vision after the procedure. Although surgery is the only way that a cataract can be removed, new improved methods have since been adopted.
Today, the phacoemulsification technique is used. This process allows the doctor to remove the cataract through a tiny self-sealing incision. After the lens has been removed, a small intraocular foldable lens is then inserted. Once in position, it unfolds occupying the space left by the cloudy lens which was once there.
What should I expect after cataract surgery?
Younger kids recover from cataract surgery very quickly and are usually back to normal in a day or so. Older kids and adults may feel a little uncomfortable for a few days. Your doctor should typically give you prescription eye drops and directions on how to use them. This helps you heal faster as well as controlling the pressure inside your eye and preventing any development of infection.
If only one eye was operated on, then you will have to wear a patch on the other eye. This assists in strengthening the eye that was operated on. A day or two after the surgery expect:
- Mild discomfort
- Itchiness of the eye operated on
- Watery eye
- A short period of blurry vision
What are the side effects of cataract surgery?
Although cataract surgery has proven successful over the years, there are a few side effects that have also been observed.
After the procedure, if the delicate bag that the lens rests is injured, then the artificial lens that was inserted during the surgery may need to be placed in a different location. This repositioning may call for yet another procedure. This is rare but if it occurs then it may lead to significant vision loss.
Some patients have been known to experience secondary cataracts. This happens when you develop a sensation that the cataract earlier removed, is returning because you notice that your vision is becoming blurry again. This can, however, be rectified time and again through a process known as posterior capsular opacification
Cataract surgery has a resoundingly high success rate. The side effects or complications are minimal and they can easily be rectified by your doctor. If you are considering having cataract eye surgery, it is important to find the best eye clinic with state of the art technology. It is only important to ensure that your surgeon has a rich experience and a high reputation. These will ensure that you have a successful surgery that results in optimal vision enhancement and a smooth recovery.