A cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye and is usually resulted from the natural process of aging. The cloudy cataract makes it difficult for light to pass through, therefore causing blurred vision. During cataract surgery the cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens, restoring sight. Millions of cataract surgeries are performed each year in the United States, and it is one of the most successful surgical procedures.
REASONS FOR CATARACT SURGERY
Cataracts typically develop gradually over a long period of time. Early symptoms of cataract include blurry vision, difficulty driving at night, increased glare from lights, and needing more light to read.
Because cataracts develop slowly most of the time, some patients with significant cataracts may not even realize their vision is no longer normal. Cataract surgery is generally recommended when a person’s ability to perform everyday activities is limited, and glasses no longer helps.
BENEFITS OF CATARACT SURGERY
Cataract surgery is a very rewarding experience for both the patient and the surgeon. It improves quality of life and in a way “brings back the youth” for many patients. Depending on the type of lens implanted during cataract surgery, the need for glasses for all ranges of vision can be greatly reduced.
The many benefits of cataract surgery include:
- Improved quality of vision (sharper images, brighter colors)
- Less difficulty with routine tasks (night driving, reading)
- Decreased dependency of eyeglasses and contact lenses
- Greater physical safety, making life more enjoyable
- Better mental status
Cataract surgery will improve vision by allowing light to enter the eye more properly and become better focused. However, abnormalities involving the cornea, retina, or optic nerve may affect the final visual outcome.
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH CATARACT SURGERY
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that is done one eye at a time. The two eyes are usually done a couple of weeks apart. The surgery is done at a surgery center by your surgeon (Dr. Lee or Dr. Hsiao), with the support of an anesthesiologist and a nursing staff.
The cataract procedure usually takes 10-15 minutes to perform and does not involve much pain. The patients are generally awake but relaxed by medications given by the anesthesiologist. While it’s understandable to feel anxious prior to having eye surgery, most patients have little anxiety with their second eye after their first surgery.
After surgery, a few medication eye drops will be required to prevent infection and help the eye heal. While the eye takes a few weeks to fully heal from surgery, the vision is generally good within 1-2 weeks. We ask patients to refrain from any heavy lifting or prolonged bending for the first week after surgery.