Cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed eye procedures today. It is a minor procedure that corrects the clouding that develops on the eye’s natural lens as a part of the aging process. Once this clouding occurs, there is no way to stop it. Vision will continue to degrade until the cataracts are removed. That said, cataract removal surgery is elective. Patients are often told to schedule surgery when their cataracts have become intrusive on their quality of life. Because a person can choose when to have cataract surgery, they may procrastinate in doing so. Often, they do this because they aren’t sure what to expect during and after their procedure. When we don’t know what to expect, it’s natural to be nervous. Here, we clear the air so you can clear your vision.
Before Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery takes a little bit of preparation and planning. Before the procedure is scheduled, the ophthalmologist measures the eye to determine which intraocular lens will best suit the patient’s needs. No two eyes are alike, so this is an important step. The cataract removal procedure removes the natural lens of the eye and replaces it with an artificial lens. This lens must have the right focusing power to achieve clear vision.
Cataract removal is done on an outpatient basis. The procedure is performed in the office, and patients can go home right away. To make the patient comfortable, the ophthalmologist applies numbing eye drops that significantly diminish sensation. There is no pain associated with the procedure, only a mild sensation of pressure. An additional medication may be given to help the patient relax.
On the numb eye, the ophthalmologist makes small incisions near the edge of the cornea to access the natural lens. Using special instruments, the doctor breaks the lens into tiny pieces and removes it. The new, artificial lens is then inserted into the same “pocket” of tissue that held the lens. In most cases, no stitches are needed. The eye self-repairs in a matter of days.
Cataract Surgery Recovery
After cataract surgery, patients use special eye drops to help the eye heal optimally. They may wear a patch over the eye to prevent accidental bumping or debris getting onto the ocular surface. The surgeon may advise avoiding certain activities, like strenuous exercise and driving, until the eye has healed. While it can take a week or two to acclimate to the new lens, patients can see more clearly the day of surgery.