What is Cataract Surgery?
The eye’s natural, aged and cloudy lens is called a cataract. Cataracts can affect one or both eyes. If a cataract makes it difficult for you to carry out your normal activities, your doctor may suggest cataract surgery.
A cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed operations worldwide . It is a safe and effective procedure to remove the cataract, replacing it with a new man-made lens implant, resulting in improved vision.
How are cataracts formed?
The lens inside the eye works much like a camera lens, focusing light onto the retina for clear vision. It also adjusts the eye’s focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away. The lens is mostly made of water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through it. As we age, some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. This is a cataract, and over time, it may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.
Cataracts generally occur in both eyes at a similar but not identical rate, but in some cases, may affect only one eye. Because cataracts often develop at a slightly different pace, one eye may require cataract surgery before the procedure is necessary on the other eye.
Signs and Symptoms
Cataract symptoms often present so gradually that they go unnoticed for a time. Vision is not particularly affected during early onset of a cataract. Cloudy or foggy vision is the symptom most associated with cataracts, however other signs that may signal cataract formation include:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Colors look faded
- Poor night vision
- Lamps, sunlight, or headlights seem too bright
- Haloes and glares
- Double vision (this sometimes goes away as the cataract gets bigger)
- Frequent vision prescription change
These symptoms can also be a sign of other eye problems too. Be sure to talk to your eye doctor if you have any of these problems.
Postoperative Recovery for Cataract Surgery
Postoperative recovery for cataract surgery usually takes just a few days, during which you may experience some mild eye discomfort. You will be given a protective shield for your eye which your doctor will instruct you when to remove and when to replace. The eye shield is generally used during sleep for several days. Vision may seem blurry when the eye shield is first removed. This distorted vision is normal while your eye becomes accustomed to the intraocular lens.
Some patients experience red or bloodshot eyes, which resolves quickly as the eye heals. Clear vision can return within several hours or may take 1-2 weeks to be completely restored. While you will probably feel able to return to normal activities shortly after your cataract surgery, you should follow these tips to expedite your recovery:
- Do not drive on the day of your cataract surgery
- Be careful not to bump into anything
- Avoid activities that put pressure on the eye (lifting heavy objects, bending down, strenuous activity, sneezing, vomiting)
- Do not rub the eye
- Avoid eye irritants, such as wind, dust, and smoke
- Do not swim or use a hot tub the first week after eye surgery
After your cataract surgery, you should feel free to contact our clinic with questions or concerns any time during your at-home recovery. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled after your cataract surgery to check on the progress of your healing, which is generally completed within 8 weeks.
As with any surgery, cataract surgery poses risks such as infection and bleeding. Your risk of complications is greater if you have another eye disease or a serious medical condition affecting any part of your body. Occasionally, cataract surgery fails to improve vision because of underlying eye damage from other conditions, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. Be rest assured that we will discuss risks and advantages that apply to your situation at the pre-operative assessment clinic before proceeding with the surgery.
Whilst this surgery can treat myopia (near-sightness), hyperopia (far-sightness), astigmatism, or presbyopia, some prescriptive errors may exist after the surgery. Symptoms include blurry vision and inability to focus, which can be treated by wearing spectacles. The remaining prescription can be noted through an eye examination. Some of the more common causes of not achieving target prescription are dry eyes, previous refractive procedures (e.g. LASIK), dense cataract, or an unpredictable postoperative recovery (more inflammation), implanted lens tilt that will cause a deviation from the target prescription after the cataract surgery.
Most common complications, if treated early, can be managed with medication or further surgery. Complications may delay the recovery process.
With regard to visual issues after surgery, the doctor will conduct a thorough examination to assess if the implanted artificial lens had moved or tilted. The ophthalmologist can then attempt to eliminate the remnant prescription. If the patient has minimal prescription and astigmatism, ranging from 1-3 dioptres, a highly accurate laser treatment can be performed. The procedure only lasts one and a half minutes, and majority of patients recover the next day after surgery. For patients with high prescriptions, (more than 5 dioptres), patients could choose to implant a new artificial “piggyback” lens. The surgery takes eight to ten minutes, and the high degree of safety and accuracy would improve the quality of the patient’s vision and life.
If you have any questions about your eyes, prescription or procedures, please contact your ophthalmologist.