What To Expect When Having Cataract Surgery

A cataract causes clouding of the lens in the affected eye, and this clouding occurs due to protein cells in the lens clumping together. A cataract tends to worsen over time and can leave you completely blind without treatment which can impede your ability to drive, read, and do the day-to-day tasks you enjoy. Cataract surgery is a relatively common eye surgery that involves having the damaged lens removed and replaced to restore your vision. If you're a suitable candidate for cataract surgery, here's what you can expect:

Pre-Surgery Decisions

The lens in your eye does two main jobs. Firstly, it protects the rear of your eye from debris and bacteria. Secondly, it plays a role in the processing of light as it enters your eye and travels to the retina in the back of the eye. When you are having your lens removed and replaced with an artificial lens, you will have some decisions to make. The material your new lens is made of will determine the surgical technique that will be used to secure it in place. Acrylic and plastic lenses require an incision to be made at the lens capsule and a stitch will be required to close the incision site when the new lens is in place. A silicone lens has the advantage of being flexible, so there is no need for an incision at the lens capsule, as it can be gently manipulated into the correct position.

Once you've selected the lens material, you will also have the option to select a lens made to match your eyeglasses prescription, if you have one. Glasses wearers may be able to stop wearing their glasses if they opt for prescription artificial lenses. You can also request an anti-ultraviolet light coating to be added to your lenses, which will protect your eyes from the damage caused by ultraviolet light.

The Surgery Itself

Cataract surgery is considered to be a routine procedure and it's typical for patients to go home only a couple of hours after surgery. Local anaesthetic is used for the procedure, but if you feel particularly anxious about having eye surgery, you can speak to your doctor about the possibility of having a general anaesthetic. Eye drops are used to dilate your pupils at the start of your procedure. This is done to allow your doctor to get the best view of your lens that's possible. An ultrasound probe will then be inserted into your eye through an incision in your cornea. Ultrasound waves are used to break up the damaged lens and the pieces are then suctioned out of your eye. The artificial lens is then set in place and the incision in the cornea will be stitched to ensure bacteria aren't able to get into your eye. After a couple of hours of close monitoring, you will be allowed to return home, but you should expect to take it easy for a few days while your eye recovers and your vision stabilises.  

If you'd like to know more about cataract surgery, discuss the procedure with a doctor.