According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 20.5 million Americans over 40 years old have a cataract in either or both eyes. It is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States and worldwide.
A cataract is a common eye condition that is directly associated with the aging process. When the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, light cannot pass through, which results in blurry vision and heightened glare perception. Although cataracts do not usually cause pain, they can interfere with your day-to-day activities.
Early-stage cataracts can be treated with prescription glasses or other vision aids, but advanced cases require surgical intervention. Cataract surgery is one of the safest and, most commonly performed surgeries, with a very low risk of complications.
How to Prepare for Cataract Surgery
A week before the procedure, your doctor will perform an ultrasound to measure the size and shape of your eye. The results will determine which type of intraocular lens (IOL) is suitable for your needs. Typically made of bio-grade plastic, acrylic, or silicone, an IOL helps focus light onto the back of your eye and improves your vision. The IOL is essentially a prosthetic lens for your eye.
You may be instructed not to eat, drink, or take any medications 12 hours before the procedure. In some cases, special eye drops may be prescribed. Be sure to make the necessary arrangements to have someone drive you to and from the medical facility.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, you will need to have separate surgeries for each eye. There will be a minimum 4-week interval between those surgeries.
What to Expect During the Operation
Cataract surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis and takes an hour to complete. Your doctor will first put in eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil. You may also receive local anesthetics or sedatives to keep you relaxed throughout the procedure. Although you will be awake and aware during the treatment, you won’t see what your doctor is doing.
There are different ways to remove the clouded lens, but one of the most innovative ways involves the use of computer-assisted laser technology. During this procedure, your doctor uses a bladeless laser to make a small circular incision on the area where the cataract is located. The laser technology helps to emulsify the cataract, and the lens fragments are suctioned out. Once it is removed, your doctor will carefully implant the prosthetic lens onto your eye.
In some cases, your doctor might recommend an extracapsular cataract extraction, which requires a larger incision. During this procedure, the front capsule of the lens is removed in one piece instead of breaking up the cataract.
What to Expect After Cataract Surgery
After the procedure, you will rest at the medical facility for about an hour or so. The medical personnel will ensure that your eye pressure falls within the normal range. Your doctor may prescribe eye drops or recommend protective gear to speed up your recovery.
The prosthetic lens will enable you to see colors vividly again. Many patients report temporary itchiness or discomfort a day after the surgery, but do not press on or rub your eyes. Your physician may also advise you to avoid bending over or lifting heavy items for a short while as you recover.
You will have follow-up checkups so your physician can track your recovery. Generally, your eye should heal completely in about 8 weeks.
Cataract Treatment in Washington and Missouri
If you’re experiencing cloudy vision, unusual sensitivity to glare, or any difficulty seeing, visit the experts at Advanced Sight Center for a comprehensive eye exam. Our board-certified ophthalmologists can diagnose and treat a wide range of eye conditions, and they have performed more than 30,000 successful cataract surgeries.
We have two convenient locations in the greater St. Louis area, both of which are equipped with ambulatory (outpatient) surgical centers. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call our Washington office at (636) 239-1650, or fill out our appointment request form online now. Let us help you restore your vision!