You know you are getting old when:
• The twinkle in your eye is only a reflection from the sun on your bifocals.
• You and your teeth don't sleep together.
• Your address book has mostly names that start with Dr.
… and you start seeing everything as if you are seeing it through frosted glass. That is when you know it’s time to get your cataract surgery done.
Cataract is an eye disease in which the normally clear lens of your eye becomes cloudy leading to a decrease in your vision.
Cataract Surgery is a procedure in which the lens of your eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens.
• You may consider going in for cataract surgery when your cataract causes problems in carrying out your daily activities like:
Safely doing your job, moving about outdoors and driving.
Seeing faces clearly or watching the television or reading.
Cooking, Shopping, Climbing stairs or Taking medications.
• Your doctor may recommend that you go in for cataract surgery when you have other eye troubles (like diabetic retinopathy or age-related macular degeneration) and your cataract makes it difficult for the doctor to examine your eye.
• Having said that, cataract surgery is not an emergency surgery and you can take your time to make your decision.
Complications arising from cataract surgery are not very common. However, if you have any other medical condition or eye disease, your chances of developing a complication are higher.
The possible complications are:
• Detachment of your retina
• Posterior capsule opacification or secondary cataract
Sometimes, your vision may not improve despite cataract surgery because of damage to your eye fom other conditions like glaucoma or macular degeneration.
You may be advised to stop certain medications before your surgery.
You may be told not to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to your surgery.
Antibiotic eye drops may be prescribed to you a day or two before your surgery to minimize the risk of infections.
You may be required to undergo tests like an ultrasound of your eye before your surgery.
You will not be able to drive home, so make sure that you make arrangements for someone to take you home.
Cataract surgery is usually an outpatient surgery, which means that you can go home the same day within an hour. The entire procedure from in to out takes about two-three hours.
You are given a local anesthetic to numb the region.
The following methods are used:
1. Phacoemulsification: A small cut is made in the front of your eye and a thin probe is inserted. Ultrasound waves are passed through this probe. These waves break up your cataract. The fragments are then suctioned out. A little portion at the back of your lens may be left behind to make a provision for the artificial lens.
2. Extra-capsular cataract extraction (Manual Small incision cataract surgery): A slightly larger cut is made. Surgical tools are inserted through the cut to remove the cloudy part of your lens and suction the fragments of the lens. A portion of the lens is left behind for the artificial lens to fit. This technique usually needs stitches.
After the cataract has been removed, an artificial lens called IOL or intraocular lens is inserted. This lens may be made of silicone, plastic or acrylic. Some IOLs are able to block out UV light and there are others that provide both near and distant vision.
After the surgery, your vision may still be blurry in the beginning. Slowly, within a few days, your vision will improve as you eye begins to heal and adjust.
For the first two days, you may feel itchiness or a little discomfort in your eyes.
Follow up may be required after a day or two followed by a visit one week and one month later.
You can expect complete healing within 8 weeks.
Avoid rubbing or applying pressure to your eyes.
Avoid strenuous exercises or bending.
Protect your eyes from strong sunlight, dust and grime.
Avoid swimming or hot tubs for a fortnight.
You may be required to wear an eye patch while sleeping for a week.
Take your eye drops and other medications as advised.
Contact your doctor immediately if you suffer from:
• Loss of vision
• Increasing eye redness
• Persisting pain
• Floaters or flashes in your vision
• Nausea, vomiting or excess cough