Information provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The Eye M.D. Association
CATARACT SURGERY: A CLOSER LOOK
How can a cataract be treated?
A cataract may not need to be treated if your vision is only slightly blurry. Simply changing your eyeglasses prescription may help to improve your vision for a while.
There are no medications, eyedrops, exercises, or glasses that will cause cataracts to disappear or to prevent them from forming. Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract. When you are no longer able to see well enough to do the things you like to do, cataract surgery should be considered.
In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed from the eye through a surgical incision. In most cases, the natural lens is replaced with a permanent intraocular (IOL) implant.
What can I expect if I decide to have cataract surgery?
To determine if your cataract should be removed, our ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) will perform a thorough eye examination. Before surgery, your eye will be measured to determine the proper power of the intraocular lens that will be placed in your eye. Ask your ophthalmologist if you should continue taking your usual medications before surgery. You should make arrangements to have someone drive you home after surgery.
THE DAY OF SURGERY
Surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis, either in a hospital or an ambulatory surgery center. You may be asked to skip breakfast depending on the time of your surgery.
When you arrive for surgery, you will be given eyedrops and perhaps a mild sedative to help make you comfortable. A local anesthetic will numb your eye. The skin around your eye will be thoroughly cleansed, and sterile coverings will be placed around your head. You may see light and movement, but you will not be able to see the surgery while it is happening.
Under an operating microscope, a small incision is made in the eye. In most cataract surgeries, tiny surgical instruments are used to break apart and remove the cloudy lends from the eye. The back membrane of the lens (called the posterior capsule) is usually left in place.
A plastic, acrylic, or silicone intraocular lens is implanted in the eye to replace the natural lens that was removed.
After surgery is completed, your doctor may place a shield over your eye. After a short stay in the outpatient recovery area, you will be ready to go home.
You will need to:
- use the eyedrops as prescribed;
- be careful not to rub or press on your eye;
- avoid strenuous activities until your ophthalmologist tells you to resume them;
- ask your doctor when you can begin driving;
- wear eyeglasses or an eye shield, as advised by your doctor.
You can continue most normal daily activities. Over-the-counter pain medicine may be used, if necessary.
Is a laser used during cataract surgery?
Lasers are not used in cataract removal surgery. However, the lens capsule (the part of the eye that holds the lens in place) sometimes becomes cloudy several months or years after the original cataract operation. If the cloudy capsule blurs your vision, your ophthalmologist can perform a second procedure using a laser.
This procedure, called a posterior capsulotomy, uses a laser to make an opening in the cloudy lens capsule, restoring normal vision.
Will cataract surgery improve my vision?
The success rate of cataract surgery is excellent. Improved vision is achieved in the majority of patients if other vision-limiting problems are not present.
Complications after cataract surgery
Though they rarely occur, serious complications of cataract surgery are:
- swelling; and
- detachment of the retina.
Call your ophthalmologist immediately if you have any of the following symptoms after surgery:
- pain not relieve by nonprescription pain medication;
- loss of vision;
- nausea, vomiting, or excessive coughing;
- injury to the eye.
Even if cataract surgery is successful, some patients may not see as well as they would like to. Other eye problems such as macular degeneration (aging of the retina), glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy may limit vision after surgery. Even with these problems, cataract surgery may still be worthwhile. Talk to your ophthalmologist to learn more about cataract surgery and its risks and benefits.
Cataracts & Astigmatism?
Quality Distance Vision in Just One Step
What are your options for correcting astigmatism?
If you depend upon eyeglasses, you may have experience the inconvenience of not being able to find your glasses when you really need them. Eyeglasses are easily lost or damaged, expensive to replace, and inconvenient to clean and maintain. The more active you are, the more eyeglasses interfere with your lifestyle by complicating your participation in daily and recreational activities.
Many people do not like the “look” of glasses and prefer another type of vision correction, such as contact lenses. Contact lenses designed to correct astigmatism are an option; however, some users find them uncomfortable and experience difficulty in adjusting to wearing them.
There are several surgical options your surgeon may choose to treat astigmatism, such as LASIK laser vision corrections, astigmatic keratotomy (AK), or limbal relaxing incisions (LRI). However, if you are planning to have surgery to remove a cataract, you now have an additional option…treat the cataract and correct the corneal astigmatism at the same time. Your eye doctor will recommend the option that is best for you.
What would it be like to say goodbye to both cataracts and astigmatism at the same time?
Imaging being able to
- see at a distance without relying on eyeglasses or contact lenses
- finally enjoy quality distance vision without glasses or contact lenses
You are reading this with the only two eyes you will ever have. For that reason, vision corrections decisions are among the most important you will ever make. Now, revolutionary new technology makes it possible for the surgeon to perform a single outpatient procedure in which the clouded cataract lens is exchanged for an artificial lens designed to correct astigmatism as well. You may be able to break free from eyeglasses or contact lenses for distance vision in just one step, without the need for additional surgical procedures.