Traditional Cataract Surgery
In your parents’ or grandparents’ day, cataract surgery was considered risky, required a lengthy hospital stay and was usually postponed for as long as possible. Today, cataract surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and takes less than 15 minutes. It is now one of the most common and successful medical procedures performed. In fact, following cataract surgery, many patients experience vision that is actually better than what they had before they developed cataracts.
Cataracts usually affect both eyes however, only one eye will be treated at a time. If you have cataracts in both eyes, your second eye will be done as soon as you have functional vision in your first operated eye.
You will arrive at the surgery center about an hour or so prior to your procedure. Be sure you have someone to drive you to and from your surgery. Once you have been checked in you may be offered a sedative to help you relax. You will then be prepared for surgery. The area around your eyes will be cleaned and a sterile drape may be applied around your eye.
The procedure is virtually painless. Eye drops or a local anesthetic will be used to numb your eye. An eyelid holder will be placed between your eyelids to keep you from blinking during the procedure.
If you elected to have Laser Cataract Surgery, your procedure will begin at the laser. Next, you will be transported to the operating room where the cataract will be removed and the IOL of your choice will be implanted.
Microscopic “stair-stepped” incisions on the outer margin of eye the provide access to the cataract. An ultrasonic probe will be used to break up the cataract into microscopic pieces, small enough to be gently suctioned from the eye. This is step is called “phacoemulsification”.
Next, a folded intra-ocular lens (IOL) will be inserted through the micro-incision, then unfolded and locked into permanent position. These incisions are “self-sealing” and usually require no stitches. They remain tightly closed by the natural outward pressure within the eye. These types of incisions heal faster and provide a much more comfortable recuperation.
After the procedure you will be given instructions regarding your post-operative medicines and activity restrictions which are minimal. It is very important that you follow your post operative instructions exactly as given. You will need to have someone drive you back to the office to have your eye checked the next day. Do not drive until you are told you can see good enough to drive after surgery.
You will go home soon after the surgery and relax for the rest of the day. Everyone heals somewhat differently, but many patients report improvement in their vision soon after the procedure. You should be able to return to your normal activities within a day or two.