Maybe you’ve heard that cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure in the United States, helping three million people a year. Maybe you’ve heard that it’s also among the shortest at 15 minutes per eye. It’s also one of the safest, as 99 percent of the cases handled by experienced surgeons succeed without complications.
Do You Need Cataract Surgery?
Pretty much everyone who lives long enough gets cloudy vision. As we age, the natural lenses of the eye become less transparent and resilient. Cataract surgeons solve that problem by replacing those clouded lenses with clear synthetic ones called intraocular lenses (IOL). (You’ll find more about the condition at Horizon’s Cataracts page.)
Maybe you’ve started having trouble driving at night, reading books, playing golf or tennis as well as you did. Possibly colors don’t seem as sharp. Impressionist painter Claude Monet, a master of blues and greens, could no longer see those hues as his lenses thickened.
If you notice these signs in your own vision, consult an ophthalmologist. S/he will examine your eyes and help you decide whether your vision has deteriorated enough to warrant cataract surgery. But what’s it like to go through the procedure?
About The Procedure
The doctor measures your eyes in detail beforehand to determine the right focusing power for your IOLs. The surgeon tailors the artificial lenses to resolve nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism and varies the prescription from left eye to right eye. You may be given eye drops to prevent infection and reduce swelling after surgery. You may also have to stop taking certain medicines in advance.
The outpatient surgery takes place in the doctor’s office. An anesthetist supplies intravenous sedation, while the surgeon creates tiny incisions with a blade or laser near the edge of your cornea. Those cuts allow the doctor to reach in to break up the lens with the cataract and remove it, then fit your IOL into place. You go home after perhaps half an hour in the recovery room.
Surgeons don’t usually need to stitch up the incisions, which heal by themselves. They prefer to do one eye at a time, about two weeks apart, and follow-up visits for each eye determine whether you’ve healed properly.
Most patients recover quickly from cataract surgery and resume normal life within a few days. You’ll need to avoid strenuous activity, especially activity involving resistance, until at least a week has passed. But your vision should be good enough the next day to drive, read and generally function without depending on someone else.
You shouldn’t feel post-operative pain, though eye drops used after the operation may cause irritation. You will have to wear a clear protective shield at bedtime for the first week to protect the eye from trauma while you sleep.
Benefits Of Cataract Surgery
Unlike many operations, cataract surgery provides dramatic and immediate improvement. Patients report colors being more vivid. Details of flowers and trees spring into view, and the old TV set suddenly seems new. Clarity may bring a few drawbacks: If you’ve never seen the wrinkles on your face, they’ll come into sharp relief when you look at them now. But the world will seem a brighter place than it has in years.
Cataract Surgery At Horizon Eye Care
To schedule a consultation at Horizon Eye Care, use our Patient Portal or call 704-365-0555 Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.