Cataract Surgery: What You Need to Know

If you have noticed your vision becoming cloudy as you age, it’s possible that you may need cataract surgery. Your eye’s lens is naturally clear, but if it begins to grow cloudy, it means a cataract has formed. You will need cataract surgery to resolve this problem if your daily activities are impeded. The good news is cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed in the United States. The surgery is an outpatient procedure, meaning that you will not have to remain overnight in a hospital, and usually takes less than an hour to complete.

If your ophthalmologist determines you are a candidate for cataract surgery, some necessary tests will be performed. An A-scan will help your eye doctor determine the length of your eye, and by using a technique called keratometry, your doctor will measure your cornea. These tests help your eye doctor determine the best lens implant for you.

Other preparations include making sure your eye doctor is aware of any medications you are taking. You might be told to fast for 12 hours before the procedure. Your ophthalmologist might also have you use antibiotic eye drops for 1-2 days before your surgery to help prevent infection.

When you go in for the procedure, your surgeon will begin by placing eye drops in your eye to dilate your pupil. You will have local anesthesia to numb the area and possibly a sedative to help you relax.

Cataracts are most often removed through a procedure called phacoemulsification. Your doctor makes a small incision in your cornea and then inserts a minute instrument that breaks up the center of your cloudy lens with high-frequency ultrasound. The lens is then suctioned out to allow the surgeon to replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL). This implant is made of plastic, silicone or acrylic. With the IOL, light can now pass through and focus properly on the retina, returning clarity to your vision. At this point, your surgeon closes the incision and places a protective shield over your eye.

After your procedure, you will spend some time resting in the outpatient recovery area. Remember to have someone there to drive you home. In the days following your surgery, you will need to take care to use the eye drops prescribed by your doctor and also wear the eye shield while you sleep. You will also need to wear the special wraparound sunglasses provided by your eye doctor when in bright light. Take special care not to rub your eye, and avoid getting anything in your eye due to the risk of infection. For the first week after surgery, avoid strenuous activity, such as exercise or lifting anything heavier than 25 pounds. Blurred vision in the days to weeks following surgery is possible.

You doctor will schedule 2-3 follow-up visits to make sure your healing is progressing as it should.

If you have cataracts in both eyes, you will likely only have surgery on one eye at a time to give your first eye time to heal before the second surgery a month or two later.

Almost 98% of cataract surgeries are performed with no complications, but as with any surgical procedure, risks are possible. These include:

  • Infection
  • Retinal swelling
  • Corneal swelling
  • Glaucoma
  • Retinal detachment
  • Bleeding in the eye
  • Secondary cornea
  • Partial or complete loss of vision

Medicare and most private insurance plans cover the cost of cataract surgery, as long as vision tests indicate the necessity of the procedure.

If you are experiencing problems with cloudy or blurred vision, call us at The Jackson Clinic today to set up a consultation. Let us help you improve your vision.