Everything You Need To Know About Cataract Surgery
Written by Dr. James Lehmann on 07/19/18
Getting older has many unfortunate side effects. Joints start to wear down, aches start to creep up during the day, and everyday tasks become a little harder. If your vision is starting to become more blurry, you might be developing cataracts. Cataracts are a common symptom of ageing, but they can be corrected (and your vision will be better than ever before) with cataract surgery.
What Are Cataracts?
Cataracts are the clouding of the lens caused by clumping proteins. The lens in our eye is made up of water and protein that is arranged in a way that focuses light into the retina. When protein in the lens clumps up and make the lens cloudy, things start to become more blurry.
Cataracts can develop in one eye or both eyes, but cataracts will not spread from one eye to the other. They tend to develop slowly over time.
What Causes Cataracts?
A few different factors may lead to cataracts, including factors that aren’t preventable. The main cause for cataracts is aging; over 65% of people over the age of 80 have cataracts in at least one eye. Cataract symptoms often start around the age of 50.
Other types of cataracts may develop due to unhealthy diets and behaviors, eye injuries, or overexposure to UV rays and radiation. Once cataracts develop, you can slow their growth by quitting smoking or adding more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. You cannot reverse the growth of cataracts.
Cloudiness and blurriness caused by cataracts can initially be treated with glasses, but once cataracts impair vision to a point that cannot be corrected by glasses or even Lasik surgery, cataract surgery is the best way to restore vision.
Is Cataract Surgery Safe?
Many eye surgeries can seem scary, but cataract surgery is very safe and effective at restoring vision for many people with cataracts. Over three million cataract surgeries are performed each year. Nine out of ten patients report having 20/20 or 20/40 vision after the surgery was completed.
Do You Need to Prepare for Cataract Surgery?
Cataracts are not the sole cause for blurry vision as you get older. In order to know whether cataract surgery is right for you, make an appointment with a trusted eye professional to get a comprehensive eye exam. The eye doctor will be able to determine whether cataracts are present and what type of lens is best for your ideal vision if you get cataract surgery.
What Is The Process Like?
Cataract surgery has evolved over time, and recent developments in laser technology has made the process faster and more efficient than ever before. Typical cataract surgeries are performed without the need to stay overnight in the hospital; you will be in an out in under half a day.
The surgery itself takes about 15 minutes to complete.
The first step of cataract surgery is phacoemulsification. Phacoemulsification is the process of removing the cloudy part of the lens. An ultrasound device breaks up the clouding proteins and sucks them out of the lens. As cataract surgery has developed over time, the incisions required to remove the clouding parts of the lens has gotten smaller and smaller.
Once the pieces of the lens are removed, the surgeon will insert an intraocular lens (IOL) where the lens used to be. Before you enter surgery, your eye doctor will determine what type of IOL will suit you and your vision needs.
The surgery is finished by the doctor closing up the places where incisions were made and adding protection that will help your eye heal during recovery. One stitch may or may not be needed.
Recently, developments in laser technology have allowed surgeons to complete cataract surgeries without as many incisions or blades. Laser-assisted cataract surgeries were approved in 2012, but have given many patients clear vision with less worry. Different types of laser cataract surgery are available for patients with astigmatism and other vision needs. This type of surgery is typically more expensive because it is new to the market, but many patients see the worth of getting optimal vision after a laser-assisted cataract surgery that doesn’t involve as many incisions.
What Does Recovery Look Like?
The surgery itself takes about 15 minutes, but you will most likely be spending more time after the surgery talking to the doctor about recovery and post-operation procedures.
After the surgery, your vision will be blurry; make sure you have someone to drive you home from the surgery and drive you around until a doctor approves your vision to drive. Most people take off work for a day or two after the surgery is completed.
Your doctor will go into the details about what your specific recovery will look like, but most patients usually have a recovery that includes:
- Refrain from heavy lifting or strenuous activity for a week after surgery
- Protective eyewear for outdoor activities
- Eye drops for a few weeks after surgery
- Care around dust, water, or bacteria that could get into your eye
Will I Need Visual Assistance?
Many patients are able to restore their vision after cataract surgery, but other patients will have to wear corrective lenses in order to see.
Before you get cataract surgery, talk to an eye care professional about the different types of lenses that are best for your eyes. You may be able to qualify for IOLs that correct presbyopia (long-sightedness.) These IOLs include multifocal IOLs, accommodating IOLs, and extended depth of focus IOLs. These lenses are more expensive, but decrease the need for reading or computer glasses after cataract surgery.
Laser Cataract Surgery in San Antonio
Laser cataract surgery is not available in every eye care facility. If you are looking for laser cataract surgery in San Antonio, talk to the professionals at Focal Point Vision. We offer three different packages for patients with different vision needs, including cataract surgery that can address astigmatism.
Reach out to the professionals at Focal Point Vision for more information on your options for laser cataract surgery in San Antonio.