Planning to undergo cataract surgery? This relatively common and straightforward procedure is performed to treat cataracts, a condition where the eye lens becomes progressively opaque in turn causing blurry vision and, in some cases, blindness. It can take anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes, and patients can be allowed to go home the same day. Here is an overview of the cataract operation procedure.
Before the procedure
A specialist eye doctor such as ophthalmologist will first assess your eyes as well as general health. He or she will particularly check for eye conditions that could be responsible for your vision problems. This can also be a good time for you to ask any questions you might have about the procedure. If cataracts are the cause, your eye measurements will be taken to determine the right artificial lens that will be implanted in place of the affected natural lens. Where a patient has cataracts in both eyes, surgery has to be carried out separate occasions, often 6 to 12 weeks apart to allow the first eye enough time to heal and vision to return.
During the procedure
Before the surgery, a nurse will put a few drops in the affected eye to dilate/widen the pupil. You will also receive local anesthetics (either applied as eyedrops or injected into tissue around your eye) to numb the area. Your doctor may also give you a sedative to help you relax as the operation is performed. The commonly used method in cataract surgery is called phacoemulsification and involves the use of ultrasound probe to emulsify the clouded lens for easy removal.
First, a tiny incision will be made in the cornea (the front of the eye) and a needle-thin probe carefully inserted into the lens substance. The probe basically emits ultrasound waves that break up the cataract into fragments. These pieces are liquefied and then sucked out. After the completion of the procedure, your surgeon may use stitches to close the incision in the cornea. With the cataract removed, an artificial lens will be implanted into the lens capsule. The implant, commonly known as the intraocular lens (IOL), can be made of a different material including plastic, acrylic and silicone.
After the procedure
Following cataract operation procedure, your vision may be somehow blurry as your eye (s) heals and adjusts. Vision typically starts improving in a matter of days. Patients may see their eye doctor a few days following the surgery, the week after and again after a month or so to monitor healing.