Cataract surgery is an eye procedure that involves removing the eye’s lens and replacing it with a synthetic lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). If you’re experiencing decreased quality of life due to cataracts, an eye doctor may recommend this procedure to improve your vision. Here are several things to know when considering eye surgery:
What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is an eye condition that causes the lens of your eye to become cloudy or opaque. It occurs due to the gradual deterioration of proteins called crystallins in the eye’s lens. These crystallins are responsible for maintaining the lens’s transparency. Over time, they can break down and clump together, disrupting the lens’s clarity.
Several factors can contribute to cataract formation, including age, genetics, and ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Lifestyle choices, such as smoking, may elevate the risk. Medical conditions like diabetes and the long-term use of corticosteroids can also contribute to cataract development.
How Does Cataract Surgery Work?
When cataracts begin diminishing your ability to complete your daily activities, it may be time to consider cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is the only way to remove cataracts. The procedure includes the following stages:
Preparing for the Procedure
The process begins with an eye examination by an ophthalmologist. This examination evaluates the extent of the cataract and the eye’s health. An ultrasound measurement is taken of the eye’s shape and size to select the appropriate IOL for the eye. The ophthalmologist will discuss the available types of IOLs with you, such as multifocal and monofocal lenses. Your eye doctor may also advise temporarily discontinuing certain medications that could interfere with the surgery.
During the Procedure
Cataract surgery involves removing the cataract with phacoemulsification or extracapsular extraction. Phacoemulsification requires a tiny incision in the cornea, through which a needle-thin probe is inserted to break up and suction out the lens matter. An artificial lens is then implanted into the empty capsule left behind.
Extracapsular extraction uses surgical tools to remove the front portion of the lens in one piece. The back capsule is left intact for an artificial lens to be placed within. Stitches may be used after either procedure to close the incision in the cornea. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia, numbing the eye area while you stay awake during the procedure. You may feel pressure in your eye during the operation, but there should be no pain. Many patients are able to return to their normal activities within a few days.
After the Procedure
After cataract surgery, you may notice some blurring or haziness as your eye adjusts and heals. It can be normal to experience itching and slight discomfort for a few days following the surgery. Refrain from touching or rubbing your eye. A physician may suggest wearing an eye patch or protective shield on the day of the surgery and a few days afterward. You may also be given eye drops to use for a few weeks.
Improve Your Vision With Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery is an effective procedure that can help improve vision. If you are struggling with cataracts, speak to an eye doctor about your condition and treatment options. Take the first step towards better vision and schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist today.