Healthy Living

What is Cataract Surgery?

What Is Cataract Surgery?

Key Takeaways

  • Cataract surgery is a prominent and relatively uncomplicated operation that normally takes 30 to 45 minutes
  • Most people are discharged from the hospital a few hours after receiving cataract surgery
  • Though post-surgery problems disappear within a few days or weeks, you should immediately contact your doctor if the pain gets severe or if you lose sight

The exact cause of cataracts is not known. Nevertheless, it seems that most cataracts are caused by long-term variations in the eye lens protein components which in turn causes cloudiness in the lens. Though not common, cataracts can affect infants and young children due to genetic enzyme abnormalities, other hereditary illnesses, or inherent infections that affect human systems.

Cataracts can develop faster due to serious eye trauma, eye operation, or intraocular swelling. Overexposure to sunlight and ionizing, diabetes, cigarette smoking, or use of certain drugs like steroids, can also lead to the formation of cataracts in young children and infants. Long-term use of medicines such as statins and phenothiazines may make you vulnerable to cataract infection.

Factors to consider before undergoing cataract surgery

Surgical removal of the affected lens during a cataract procedure is quite simple in nature when compared to other surgeries or procedures. It can however cause risks that you should be aware of, if you are considering the surgery. It is important to note that most of these are not serious side effects, and they are comparable to many other surgeries. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the procedure fully.

Sometimes the most important risk factors are those which you have not considered. These include serious underlying conditions, which can effect the outcome of the procedure. In some cases, underlying damage or trauma to the eye can prevent the surgery from working at all. These risk factors include macular degeneration and glaucoma. Be sure to communicate any unique complications with your ophthalmologist that may reduce the efficacy of cataract surgery. It is encouraged that these underlying conditions or complications be treated before undergoing surgery for cataracts.

One of the most common effects of cataract surgery is the inflammation of the eye and surrounding areas. Inflammation will reduce in time post-surgery, and it is a byproduct of the removal of the clouded lens.

Before delving into a potential surgery, it is important to understand associated risk factors that may personally interfere with the efficacy of the surgery.

How cataract surgery is carried out

  • A special eye physician, also known as an ophthalmic surgeon, will examine your eye before having cataract surgery.
  • The ophthalmic surgeon will examine your eyes and overall health, and find out if there are any problems that may be interfering with your sight.
  • An eye-team member will test your eyes to evaluate the strength of the unnatural lens that will substitute your natural eye lens.
  • You are also offered an opportunity to discuss in-depth how the surgery will be conducted and pose any queries that you may have.
  • Two different operations may be prescribed if both of your eyes are affected by cataracts, consequently tampering with your sight. The surgeries are done at an interval of 6 to 12 weeks.
  • The time between the two operations helps the first treated eye to heal and regain vision before the next eye is operated on. The first eye surgery helps the eye surgeon to recommend your new eye wear.

The process that categorizes the surgery

Cataract surgery is a prominent and relatively simple operation that normally takes a maximum of 30 to 45 minutes:

  • It is typically done while you are conscious and you can go home within a few hours after the procedure. 
  • Phacoemulsification is the most popular surgery method.
  • Your pupils will be widened (dilated) by application of special eye drops.
  • You'll also receive a local anesthetic in the form of eye drops or by injecting the eye’s surrounding tissue.  
  • The surgeon slightly cuts the transparent layer of flesh at the front of your eye.
  • A tiny probe that produces ultrasound waves is put through your cornea into the eye to break the lens with cataracts into pieces. The pieces are then dissolved and removed through suction. A second probe removes the outstanding soft pieces of the exterior lens.
  • After the removal of the affected lens, the surgeon will replace it by implanting a tiny artificial lens.
  • The artificial lens is inserted by injecting it through the cut in the cornea.  Though it is usually curled up in the injector, the plastic lens uncurls itself upon reaching its designated location.
  • Though rare, a deeper cut on the cornea may be required, and it may need tiny stitching to close up. The stitches are removed after a few weeks.

Post-Operation

Most people are discharged from the hospital a few hours after receiving cataract surgery. However, you will need a person to accompany you as travel back home. Your eye will still be covered with a pad.

You may feel slightly unwell for a day, so it's a good idea to have somebody to take care of you in the event of any complications related to surgery. Having transportation set up with a friend or family member is encouraged.

If your other eye has vision issues too, you may be unable to see well in the first few days after surgery before the previously operated eye heals.

You may also feel uneasy in and around your operated eye after the surgery, but this discomfort goes away after a few days. If continued pain is felt around the eye after the designated recovery period, contact your doctor immediately.

Though after-surgery problems disappear within a few days or weeks, you should contact your doctor if the pain gets severe or if you lose sight. 

Methods that promote healthier eyesight

To remove all likelihood of contracting cataracts is near impossible. The plethora of causes and ways in which cataracts manifest are difficult to identify. There are, however, a few lifestyle choices you can make to better serve your eye health. Regular examinations are highly encouraged. Whether it is twice a year or done annually, eye exams can reveal potential complications associated with degenerative eye diseases. As with any disease or condition, early detection and prevention are very important for effective treatment. Visit a specialist if you notice any symptoms associated with cataracts.

Healthy dieting should be considered by any individual. Having proper quantities of fruits and vegetables with your meals can improve your eye health, among possessing other benefits. The vitamins and nutrients found in these food groups are necessary for proper bodily functions, including eyesight. The antioxidants contained within these foods benefit eye health, too.

This may seem obvious or near impossible, depending on what it means to you. Smoking exacerbates a number of conditions affecting a multitude of organs and systems within the body. If you need help quitting smoking or other treatment options have not worked, speak with your doctor immediately to discuss alternative treatment prescriptions and regimens. Alcohol is also known to exacerbate the likelihood of developing cataracts.

Wear sunglasses when outdoors or in bright areas. While the sun gives us a dose of much-needed vitamin D, ultraviolet rays can contribute to the development of cataracts, as well.

These methods, if practiced regularly, will help contribute to the reduced likelihood of developing cataracts. It is important to note that these methods are not foolproof plans in the prevention of cataracts, but they exist to work in conjunction with more direct treatment options. If your vision is decreasing at an accelerated rate, even with the introduction of multiple treatment options, you should probably consider cataract surgery.

Final Thoughts

It is always important to take steps to protect your eyes, but cataracts may occur anyway. If the cataracts are affecting your ability to see properly, it may be necessary to have cataracts surgery performed. While this may be intimidating, it is actually a very simple procedure that may improve your quality of life.