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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Ramirez

Cataract Surgery: What is it, Procedures, Cost, Recovery Time

What is cataract surgery? Cataract surgery is a procedure that involves removing an eye's cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens. Cataract surgery is the safest and best solution to remove cataracts permanently. Cataract eye surgery involves some common procedure and is performed on an outpatient basis. Therefore, patients don't have to stay in the hospital after surgery. Most ophthalmologists recommend surgery because it has a high rate of success and patients are usually able to see better after cataract surgery.

Why and When to Have Cataract Surgery?

Normally, the human eye lens is clear. Cataract affects the vision by blocking or covering the eye lens with a dense, cloudy, oval-shaped structure. As a result, the lens of the eye gets cloudy too. Cataracts increase the glare from lights. People with cataracts experience blurry or misty vision. To remove that cloudy structure and restore possible normal eye vision, cataract surgery is needed.

If you have a cataract, it does not mean you need cataract surgery. In fact, if you are experiencing cataract symptoms you do not need immediate surgery either. Moreover, waiting for cataract surgery won’t harm your eyes. In a word, if your vision is still good, even if you have a cataract, you may not need cataract surgery. Sometimes wearing prescription glasses, using magnifying lenses, stronger eyeglasses is helpful for normal vision.

So when a person needs cataract surgery? Well, the answer is easy. When cataracts counteract your normal activities, you need cataract surgery. If a cataract also interferes with the treatment of another eye problem, cataract surgery is also recommended.

Consider taking cataract surgery when:

  • You can’t see to safely do your regular job.

  • When you are facing difficulty in shop, cook, travel.

  • You can not drive because you have blurry vision.

  • Facing trouble in reading or watching television.

  • Trouble seeing in brighter light.

  • When you are facing double vision.

Cataract Surgery Preparation: How to Prepare for Cataract Surgery?

There are certain procedures you need to go through to prepare yourself for cataract surgery. Cataract eye surgery possesses some pre-surgery and post-surgery procedures.

Pre-Surgery Procedure: Before Surgery

First, you will be going through a full eye exam to make sure whether you have other eye problems or not. A week before the surgery, your doctor will perform a painless ultrasound test to measure the size and shape of your eye to determine the right artificial lens for your eye. There are many types of lenses available. Doctors mostly prefer IOLs lenses. These lenses are flexible, block UV lights and improve vision as well. Consult your eye surgeon to determine which lens is best for you.

Your doctor may advise you not to eat or drink anything for 12 hours before cataract surgery. They also prescribe antibiotic eye drops for one to two days use before the surgery. You may also be advised not to take any medication because that might have side effects and also increase the risk of bleeding during surgery. If you take regular medication, inform your doctor about it.

During Surgery Procedure: What to Expect During Cataract Surgery?

Cataract removal procedure generally takes about half an hour or an hour max. First of all, your surgeon will give you eye drops in your eye to dilate the pupil. Then, they will numb the side around the eye and also give you a sedative for relaxation.

During the procedure, your doctor will make a tiny cut in the front of your eye (cornea). Through this cut, a needle-thin probe will be inserted into the lens to break up the cataract using ultrasound waves and gently suction it out. After that, your surgeon will implant the new lens into the empty lens capsule and use stitches to close the tiny cut in your cornea.

You may feel cool water flowing over your eye, sometimes you may also feel painless touch. You may also experience very light pressure sensations and colorful lights during surgery, which is very normal.

After Cataract Surgery

After cataract surgery, you may experience blurry vision at first. During this time, your eye may itch or feel sore or mild discomfort for a couple of days after surgery. Tears can come out from your eyes too. Don’t worry! Just avoid pushing or rubbing your eye. It takes some time to heal and adjust your eyes. After surgery colors may seem brighter because of the new lens.

See your eye doctor a day or two after your surgery, then after a week and again after a month for follow-up. You may be given eye drops and other medication prescribed by your doctor to prevent infection and reduce inflammation. You will be advised not to bend over, avoid picking up heavyweight and obviously not to put pressure on your eye.

You may also ask to wear an eye patch for a few days after your surgery. Your doctor may suggest you wear an eye shield while you sleep during the recovery period.

Cataract Surgery Recovery Time

Cataract surgery recovery should not take longer if you follow the post-surgery instructions from your surgeon and maintain follow-up with your eye doctor. It’s no surprise that your vision seems cloudy or blurry at first. After a couple of months, the blurry vision, itching or most of the discomfort will go away. Complete healing takes eight weeks. According to statistics, over 90% of patients see better after cataract surgery. For a faster recovery, follow these tips:

  • Avoid driving on the first day following surgery.

  • Avoid heavy lifting.

  • Avoid bending over to prevent pressure on your eye.

  • Avoid loud sneezing and vomiting.

  • Use prescribed eye drops and medication on a regular basis.

  • Stay away from dust and dirt.

  • Avoid swimming.

  • Avoid rubbing your eye after surgery.

Cataract Surgery Cost

How much does cataract eye surgery cost? Based on most recent estimates, the average out-of-pocket cost for cataract surgery is $3500 per eye.

How Painful Is Cataract Surgery?

The most common question about cataract surgery. Is cataract surgery painful? Of course not. Doctors will give you medicine to numb your eye, so you won’t feel any pain.

Are you Awake During Cataract Surgery?

You may be awake or asleep during the surgery. It depends on the amount of sedative given. During the anesthesia period, you will be given medication through I.V. that will help you relax. If you are still uncomfortable or anxious, they will provide additional I.V. medication, so you may be asleep through the whole procedure.

Will I Have Both Cataracts Removed at The Same Time?

Generally, ophthalmologists do not remove both cataracts at the same time for the safety of the patient. If you have cataracts in your both eyes, you will need two separate surgeries, typically a few weeks apart. During this time, the first eye gets a chance to heal.

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