CATARACT SURGERY: What does it involve?

Cataract surgery involves the removal of the cloudy lens (the cataract), and replacing it with a clear, artificial one. The advantage of the artificial lens is that it rarely requires care, and it improves vision significantly. Most cataract operations are done using local anaesthetic, in which the patient is awake, although unfeeling in the areas around the eye. In some other cases, the ophthalmologist may choose to have the patient sedated. In the course of the surgery, the ophthalmologist may also correct short or long sightedness, making it possible for the patient to reduce the use of their glasses.  

”Most cataract operations are done using local anaesthetic.”

IF I HAVE CATARACT IN BOTH EYES, WILL THE OPERATION BE DONE ON BOTH EYES TOGETHER?

Most people will have one cataract removed at a time. However, some surgeons decide to carry out the operation on both eyes at the same time, for patients who are at low risk of complication.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF CATARACT SURGERY?

Risk factors differ, as determined by the individual cases. A lot of cataract surgeries are successful and the patients are happy with the results. However, as with all surgery, there are risks involved and there are important things to consider before the surgery is performed. These are:

  • Blood sugar level
  • Blood pressure level
  • Psychological state of mind (You should not have an operation unless you are convinced it is right for you)

”Risk factors differ, as determined by the individual cases.”

CAN I CHOOSE NOT TO HAVE THE OPERATION?

Surgery can be done as soon as the cataract is interfering with your daily life, but if there is no major obstruction to your daily life, you can choose to leave it in your eye. However, you should know that your vision will not be as good as it used to.

AFTER THE OPERATION

In the first few weeks post-surgery, some eye drops will be given to you. Additionally, there are a number of things you will need to take care to avoid, in order to ensure a proper recovery, post surgery:

  • Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise
  • Avoid wearing make up, especially around the eyes
  • Do not allow soapy water get into your eyes for at least two weeks after surgery
  • Avoid going out without wearing your sunglasses.

WILL I NEED GLASSES AFTER MY CATRACT SURGERY?

After the surgery, your eyesight will need a few days or weeks to settle and normalize.  In some cases, patients may require the use of glasses for either distance vision, near vision or both. If you wore glasses before the surgery, you will probably need a change of glasses afterwards. As such, you would need to see your optometrist again for an examination, a few weeks after the surgery, to determine your full eye function and what the best recommendation for you would be.

N.B Your ophthalmologist or optometrist will be able to advise on when you can start driving again during your post-surgical care. This is necessary because your eyes and brain need to adapt and normalise to your vision with the new glasses.

WILL THE CATARACT COME BACK?

After some months or years, some people notice that their vision becomes cloudy or misty again in the eye where the cataract had been removed from. This is not the cataract returning, but is due to the the clouding up of the sack containing the replacement lens. This cloudiness can be cleared up by a painless laser treatment, in a matter of minutes.

Contact your optometrist if you are worried that this is happening to you.

DO CATRATCS ONLY DEVELOP IN ONE EYE?

If you have had cataract removed from one eye, it is likely that you will need the same treatment for the other eye at some point in the future.

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