Essential Things to Know Before Cataract Surgery

Essential Things to Know Before Cataract Surgery

You rely on your eyesight everyday; while cataracts impair you vision, it is essential that you take the time to understand what a cataract is, how the surgery is performed, and the risks involved with the surgery.

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a vision-impairing clouding of an eye’s natural lens. The lens is mostly made up of water and tiny proteins, and over time these protein molecules clump together, thus forming a cloud. While most cataracts are related to aging, some are developed after an eye injury. Cataracts can not spread from one eye to the other, and they can not cause irreversible blindness. Except in very rare cases, leaving a cataract in your eye can not do any additional damage; it should only be removed when both you and your eye doctor decide that you are ready. In fact, sometimes you can improve your vision without removing cataracts by opting for a stronger prescription of glasses instead.

How is the surgery performed?

The prospect of going into surgery can be scary, but most of the time that fear is stemmed from the unknown. Easing your nerves can be as simple as understanding the procedure. Cataract removal generally takes less than a few hours and you can usually go home the same day, then return the next day for a check up. Most people are awake during the procedure and only need local anesthesia; while you may see movement and light, you will not be able to see the surgery being performed.

The operation is performed by a surgeon looking through a specialized microscope. The surgeon makes a small incision in the eye; surgical instruments are used to break apart and remove the cataract from the eye. An artificial lens made out of silicone, plastic or acrylic is implanted in place of the natural clouded lens that was removed.

What are the risks involved with cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery has a very high success rate, but occasionally serious complications may occur, including bleeding, infection, swelling, or detachment of the retina. Signs of retinal detachment are little specks that float around in your line of sight and an increase of flashes. Retinal detachment does not cause any pain, but must be inspected by an eye care professional as soon as possible as it may cause permanent blindness. You should also contact your surgeon if you experience excessive pain, eye injury, loss of vision, and vomiting or nausea.