Cataracts are a natural part of the aging process. They occur as a film that forms over the eye’s lens, leading to blurry vision. Cataract surgery is the process by which the blurry, aged lens is removed, and replaced (in most cases) with an artificial lens.
In Australia, cataract surgery is performed by an opthamologist (eye doctor) and is generally a very safe and common procedure. It can be useful to have a basic understanding of the procedure and what it involves in order to prepare before your surgery.
Before the Surgery
It’s essential to prepare properly before your cataract surgery. It is fairly common for an opthamologist to instruct patients not to eat or drink anything for 12 hours prior to the surgery.
On top of this, your doctor may also advise you to stop taking any medication that could cause complications such as bleeding during the surgery. Antibiotic eye drops or medications are sometimes prescribed in advance of the surgery, and it’s important to try and get a good night’s rest before the procedure.
If stress or anxiety tends to prevent you sleeping, it could be worth talking to your doctor about available options to help you relax the night before surgery. Keep in mind that alcohol should not be consumed the day before surgery.
On the day of the surgery, wear casual dress. Don’t wear makeup, perfume, cologne, cosmetics or anything that may interfere with the procedure.
During the Surgery
It’s worth being aware of what cataract surgery involves so you can be comfortable going into the procedure. Basically, it’s an outpatient procedure that’s performed while you’re under anesthesia, meaning you are typically allowed to go home following the surgery. You will need an escort to take you home, as the after effects of anesthesia typically cause lingering drowsiness.
The surgery itself involves the surgeon creating a small incision in the eye. Through that opening, the cataract-filled lens is removed and subsequently replaced with a new artificial lens. The incision is self-healing, meaning patients don’t have to worry about any permanent damage.
Thanks to advancements in medicine, there are now two types of artificial lenses which patients may choose as replacements. One is basic, while the other utilizes advanced technology for additional eyesight improvement. You should discuss with their eye doctor in advance which one they want to use.
The cataract surgery takes approximately 10 minutes to perform, and you shouldn’t be in the hospital for more than an hour or two.
After the Surgery
You won’t be able to drive home after surgery, so make sure you’ve got someone to pick you up. For the next few days, activities like bending and lifting will be limited because of imbalance issues caused by the eye adjusting to its new lens.
It’s common for eye doctors to prescribe medications to control pressure on the eye and prevent infection from occurring. Even with medication you will probably experience minor discomfort in the affected eye for a few days.
Your eye could turn red and bloodshot due to temporary damage to blood vessels during the surgery. This is normal and the redness should disappear within a few days. If you received an injection of anesthesia below the eye, temporary bruising may occur akin to a black eye. As with any redness, the bruising should disappear within a few days.
Though most symptoms fade away quickly, the eye takes approximately 8 weeks to fully heal from cataract surgery. During this time, your opthamologist will likely wish to monitor the recovery, and you will be expected to make several follow-up appointments. In general, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t recover fully from cataract surgery.