A cataract can easily be diagnosed during your routine eye exam. If you have a cataract, your eye doctor may suggest cataract surgery to fix your eyesight.
Cataract surgery is a safe and standard procedure where your eye doctor removes the damaged lens of your eye and replaces it with an artificial one.
If you have an upcoming cataract surgery appointment, you may be wondering what you should expect before, during, and after your surgery. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about cataract surgery.
What is a Cataract?
If you have a cataract, it means that the lens in your eye is “cloudy” instead of clear like it should be.
A cataract can cause blurry vision or even vision loss as your eye can’t focus on objects the way it’s supposed to. The degree of visual change you’ll experience depends on a few things, including the placement, severity, and type of cataract you are suffering from.
The Different Types of Cataracts
Several different types of cataracts can affect your vision and eye health, including:
- Nuclear cataracts are the most common form of cataracts. They cause clouding and hardening in the center of your lens.
- Cortical cataracts look different from other types of cataracts. Instead of clouding the lens, you may notice white “streaks” forming near the edge of your lens.
- Posterior subcapsular cataracts are a type of cataract that develops at the back surface of the lens. These types of cataracts tend to progress faster than the others.
- Congenital cataracts are a type of cataract that is present at birth. While rare, they can significantly affect vision in children.
- Trauma-induced cataracts can form anywhere on the lens and often develop into a “flower-petal” shape. They occur as a result of trauma to the eye.
What Causes Cataracts?
Cataracts are most commonly caused by aging, but there are many different reasons why you may develop this eye condition, including:
- Eye injury, infection, or trauma
- Eye surgery
- Excessive exposure to sunlight
- Smoking or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
- High blood pressure
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
Symptoms of Cataracts
Unfortunately, if you have a cataract, you may not notice any symptoms right away. Once the cataract develops and spreads, you may experience any of the following symptoms:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light
- You see halos around lights
- You have double vision
- Your vision changes often
- Colors look different or appear faded
- Trouble seeing at night
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period, book an appointment with your eye doctor to get diagnosed. Depending on how much your cataract has progressed, your eye doctor may recommend cataract surgery.
What Happens During Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is a simple procedure that usually takes less than an hour.
During the surgery, your eye doctor will:
- Dilate your pupil
- Numb your eye area with an anesthetic
- Remove your clouded lens
- Implant a clear artificial lens
How Do I Prepare For Cataract Surgery?
If it is recommended that you get cataract surgery, your eye doctor will perform an eye exam to measure the size and shape of your eye. They do this to choose the best artificial lens for you.
The only thing you’ll have to do before your surgery is avoid any food or drink for at least 12 hours before your appointment. Then you can just relax and leave the rest up to our team!
What to Expect After Surgery?
After your surgery, your eye doctor will give you eye drops to prevent infection.
While your eyes may feel itchy, sore, or sensitive after your appointment, you shouldn’t experience any long-lasting side effects.
To keep your eyes healthy after your surgery, we recommend:
- Avoiding driving
- Wearing eye shields during your sleep
- Avoiding bending over or picking up heavy things
- Limiting physical activity for at least 3 weeks
- Not putting any pressure on your eyes
If you feel any pain or feel your eye isn’t healing as it should, please contact your eye doctor right away.
You can expect your eyes to be completely healed in about 2 months. Although most people have better vision after cataract surgery, you may still need to wear glasses or contacts.
Is Cataract Surgery Right for Me?
The best way to tell if you need cataract surgery is to see your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam.
During an eye exam, your doctor will check your vision, the overall health of your eyes and determine if you have any eye conditions or diseases.