Sometime in later adulthood, many people begin to experience the symptoms of cataracts. The National Eye Institute reports that adults have a 50 percent chance of having cataracts or having had cataract surgery by the time they are 80 years old. This condition, which causes clouding of the natural lens of the eyes, can be corrected with surgery.
In our Amarillo office, Dr. Murrell routinely performs cataract surgery to help patients regain better vision and a better quality of life. If you are considering cataract surgery to help yourself see clearly again, you want to know what to expect. We’ll discuss that here.
Before Cataract Surgery
The decision to undergo cataract removal surgery is based on the level of vision impairment one can tolerate. Some people prefer to have cataracts removed before they lose the ability to engage in activities they enjoy. Some do not find cloudy vision disruptive until their ability to drive or perform certain tasks safely is affected. The choice to have surgery is personal for every patient. Once cataracts start to develop, vision progressively worsens. At first, colors may look somewhat dim. As proteins on the eye continue to accumulate, one will increasingly feel as though they are looking through a dirty window. The vision changes that occur can be corrected by replacing the clouded lens with a new, clear lens.
To prepare for cataract removal, patients undergo a thorough eye examination and medical history. Cataracts are observed and the eye is measured to determine which type of intraocular lens would be most appropriate. In many cases, patients have two or more options to consider. These options are carefully explained to enable the patient to make a confident decision about their future visual acuity.
During Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that is performed with a local anesthetic. The eye is numbed with special eye drops. Patients do not feel discomfort during the brief procedure and will not see what is being done in the eye. To replace the clouded lens, a tiny incision is made near the cornea. The cataract is then emulsified to break proteins down into tiny pieces. This material is then removed from the lens capsule and the clear intraocular lens is inserted. The process takes about 15 minutes.
After Cataract Surgery
The intraocular lens inserted during surgery becomes a permanent part of the eye. This lens supports clear, long-term vision. Due to mild blurriness immediately after surgery, patients are unable to drive right away. A loved one should be present to escort the patient home after their procedure. Even while vision is adjusting to new clarity, patients often notice that colors are more vibrant once they have a clear lens in place. A follow-up takes place one to two days after surgery to assess healing. Within this time, improved vision may be noticed. However, it can take up to a month for a full recovery.