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Having Cataract Surgery

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 18 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Cataract Cataract Surgery Cataract

A cataract is where one or, more typically, both of your eyes start to experience a clouding over the lens. It’s a painless condition which usually develops later on in life over a number of years.

Unless you proceed with surgery, your eyesight will gradually deteriorate and it will ultimately lead to blindness so, even though it may be not be causing you any pain or major discomfort it can only get worse so if surgery is recommended, then your specialist perceives you to be at great risk of losing your eyesight altogether unless intervention is taken.

Cataract Removal Procedure

The most common form of cataract surgery is known as phacoemulsification. Here, the lens is broken down into tiny fragments which are then removed via a small incision which is made into your eye. After that, the lens is then replaced with an artificial one.

The procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic, so whilst you won’t experience any pain, you will be aware of the procedure taking place. However, drops are placed into your eye in order to dilate the pupil so you won’t be able to see what’s going on although you will be aware of light and movement out of the eye which is being operated on.

If you do need both eyes treated, they will normally be done separately a few weeks or even months apart to enable the first eye to fully recover. The operation itself only lasts around 15 to 20 minutes and you will only need to be admitted as a day patient. In more complex cases, you may have to have the cataract removed under general anaesthetic which will not only put you to sleep but will require more than an overnight stay.

Post Operation

After your surgery, a protective pad must be worn over the eye for a few hours and the anaesthetic will wear off within a similar period at which point you’ll start to feel the physical sensation around the treated eye again. You’ll be given eye drops to help prevent any kind of infection and they’ll also help your eye heal more quickly.

Your surgeon will be able to offer you advice about things like when you can start driving again, how long you need to keep using the eye drops etc along with other questions you may have about things you should and should not do. Unless you experience any complications, you will usually go back to visit the surgeon about 1 to 3 weeks after your operation just so the surgeon can check that everything has gone according to plan.

It’s also a good idea to wear sunglasses for the first few days after the surgery as your treated eye can sometimes be very sensitive to bright sunlight initially.

Things To Be Aware Of

There are a few important things to be aware of after you’ve had cataract surgery. It’s important that don’t touch or rub the affected eye or get anything such as soap or shampoo in it. You should also not do anything too physically arduous during your first few weeks post-surgery. Things like heavy lifting and strenuous physical exercise should be avoided initially as both can put increasing pressure on your eye and put a strain on the tiny scar which will be healing.

You should not have any problems but if you find you’re experiencing more severe pain or if the area around the eye gets redder or you experience any kind of loss of vision, you should get back in touch with the hospital. Other than that, all you’ll need to do is wait to attend your check-up by which time the surgeon should be able to give you the all-clear to continue all of your usual activities.

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