Surviving a Cataract Surgery
A cataract is a clouding of the eye lenses, which affects vision. It's the most common cause of vision loss in older people and is the principal cause of blindness in the world. Cataracts can either occur in one eye or both but cannot spread from one to the other. Cataracts affect the eyes in two ways, either by changing to a yellowish/brownish color that adds a yellowish tint to vision or by protein clumps forming in the lens, which reduces the sharpness of the image, causing blurred vision.
There are several types of cataracts, which are not related to aging. They include traumatic, secondary, congenital or radiation cataracts. Strong lighting and glasses can help with mild cataracts. However, when vision becomes poor, one can visit Atlanta's vision and cataract experts for surgery. Although it's not a life-and-death matter, it's important to prepare well for the surgery to avoid future complications. (1)
Once it has been established that the cause of the vision problem is cataracts, the eye specialist will order several eye tests to find out the size and shape of one's eyes and determine which lens implant will fit. Typically, the specialist will perform an ultrasound test (called A-scan) to know this. During the test, the size of the cornea will be measured, along with the lens.
One will be required to stop taking medication at least a day or two before the procedure, as it may cause severe bleeding during and after the surgery. Anti-inflammatory drugs and all blood-thinning medication must be stopped. Drugs used for prostate problems should also be avoided as they may prevent the pupil from dilating during the surgery. However, the ophthalmologist may recommend antibiotic eye drops a few days prior to the surgery.
The Cataract Surgery
During the surgery, one can opt for anesthesia to prevent anxiety. Many people are squeamish about having their eyes injected and parts cut out, and many ask for general anesthesia so they can be completely knocked out during the procedure. However, one only needs local anesthesia, which carries fewer risks of allergic reactions. Local anesthesia in the form of eye drops around the eyes is better as they allow one to resume their activities much quicker (within 24 hours).
Typically, there are two types of surgeries to remove eye cataracts, phacoemulsification, and extracapsular cataract extraction. It's important that a patient be aware of the type of surgery they're undergoing so they can ask questions and choose the one they're comfortable with. Phacoemulsification involves injecting a needle-like probe into the cornea and releasing ultrasound waves to break up cataracts so that they can be sucked out. Extracapsular extraction is where an incision is made in the cornea to remove the cloudy part of the lens. Whichever procedure one chooses, it will be done in less than an hour. (2)
Vision should significantly improve a few days after the cataract surgery. The doctor may recommend wearing an eye patch or protective shield for a few days. It may take a few days to see well enough to drive but apart from that, most people can resume their normal activities within a day. One will be required to use different types of eye drops, some antibiotics in nature and other anti-inflammatory or moisturizing types. One should expect some mild itching, slight discomfort, and fluid discharge. But if these symptoms persist for more than a few days, the doctor should be immediately contacted.