What is a Cataract?
Cataracts occur within the crystalline lens located inside your eye. The lens is the part of the eye responsible for focusing incoming light rays onto the retina to create a clear image. With increasing age, the clear lens in our eye starts to become cloudy. As cataracts progress, you may notice your vision becoming more blurry, objects appear dimmer or discolored, and you may have a harder time seeing at night or in low lighting. Cataracts may cause a change in your glasses prescription as they progress. Once the vision is blurred to the point that it is interfering with your daily life and the vision cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, it is time for cataract surgery.
What happens during cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is performed at a surgical center. Each eye is done separately, usually two weeks apart. The eye will be dilated and you will be given a mild anesthetic agent. A small incision is made, about 2 millimetres in length. Ultrasound energy is used to emulsify the crystalline lens and then it is removed. Once the lens is removed, a clear intraocular implant is placed in the capsule where the native lens previously sat. After a short visit to the recovery room, you will be discharged to your home. No bandage or patch is required after surgery. The total time for the operative procedure is approximately ten to fifteen minutes. Cataract surgery is considered to be one of the safest surgeries performed on the body.
What should I expect after cataract surgery?
Immediately after cataract surgery your vision will still be slightly blurry. Most patients notice a great improvement in their vision within one day, as well as everything appearing much brighter. After surgery you will need to use three different drops, in addition to any drops that you may have been using prior to surgery. There is an antibiotic drop to prevent infection and two drops used to treat inflammation, a non-steroidal and a steroid. Drops will be tapered at your follow-up appointments. Your glasses prescription will be different after cataract surgery. Depending on which lens implant you choose, you may need glasses for up close, far away or both. The glasses prescription will be finalized about four weeks after surgery.
Can cataracts come back after surgery?
Once you have cataract surgery, cataracts will not come back. The implant that is placed in your eye during surgery after your natural lens is removed cannot form a cataract. There is a condition called Posterior Capsular Opacification (PCO) which occurs after surgery that some refer to as a secondary cataract. During cataract surgery the lens is removed from your eye, but the capsule that holds it in place remains. The clear implant is then placed in that capsule. Over time that capsule can become cloudy and blur your vision just like a cataract would. Fortunately, there is a laser procedure called a Yag Laser Capsulotomy that can be done in the office to clear up cloudiness of the capsule.
What are the different intraocular lens implant options available?
At Eye Care Specialists we commonly use three different types of intraocular lens implants. We will make recommendations for you based on your glasses prescription prior to surgery and how you want to use your eyes after surgery,
Standard Monofocal Lens
The standard lens implant is used to correct your vision at one distance. In most cases we aim to correct your distance vision. This allows you to see clearly for watching television, driving, or any other activity that involves viewing things that are far off. Patients will need glasses for reading and activities that involve looking at things up close. Monofocal lenses cannot correct astigmatism. If you have astigmatism and use a standard monofocal implant, your astigmatism will remain after surgery and you may still need glasses for distance and near.
Toric lenses are used to correct pre-existing astigmatism. Astigmatism is part of the glasses prescription that is caused by the front surface of their eye being oval shaped and not perfectly spherical. Like the monofocal lens, it can only correct vision for one given distance. Therefore, you will most likely need glasses for reading after surgery.