A cataract is an ocular condition where the lens inside of the eye has become cloudy and hardened over time. Cataracts are common, and in most cases correlate with aging.
Symptoms of a cataract include blurry vision, trouble driving at night and changes in the way you see color. If you have one or more of these symptoms, visit your eye doctor to get tested for cataract and discuss cataract treatment.
How Are Cataracts Diagnosed?
To find out if you have cataracts and to determine the best treatment plan, your doctor will first want to perform an eye health screening. The consultation usually includes:
- A review of your medical history.
- A comprehensive eye exam to check all the structures of the eye.
- An in-depth conversation about your unique goals, needs, lifestyle, and vision expectations. Your doctor will also present you with the procedures or surgeries that are best suited for your needs.
What’s The Treatment
Cataracts can only be treated surgically, but you may not require it immediately. You may be able to get by with a new prescription for your glasses if you catch the condition early on.
But if your vision problems interfere with your daily activities, especially if they put you at risk of driving accidents, it’s time to talk with your doctor about cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery is generally safe, with less than 1% of patients having complications that may jeopardize their vision or requiring further surgery. Individuals with cataracts combined with other eye diseases are more susceptible to complications.
What Does Cataract Surgery Involve?
There are several kinds of operations for cataracts: small-incision surgery, large-incision surgery, and femtosecond laser surgery. They all have one thing in common- the replacement of the cloudy lens with an artificial one.
Starting at midnight, the night before cataract surgery, you should not eat or drink anything. You should also avoid taking medications except for blood pressure ones. Any other medications should be discussed with your surgeon.
Cataract surgery lasts around 20 minutes, but you’ll need to be at the surgery center or hospital for 1½ to 2 hours in total. Before the surgery, the nurse will put local anesthesia in your eyes and offer medication to relax you if you are nervous.
During surgery, the eyelids are held open with a tiny spring. The surgeon removes the cloudy natural lens and replaces it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). The type of lens chosen depends on your prescription and what shape your cornea is. Don’t worry, the procedure is not uncomfortable and there will be no discomfort or pain during the surgery.
You’ll be released once you’re alert and stable. Your doctor will check on you and discharge instructions will be discussed before you leave. You’ll also receive a prescription for eye drops.
Cataract surgery recovery is fast,so you should not be worried about a long-term halt to your daily activities. Most patients recover within 24 hours, but the process varies from person to person. After surgery, you may feel some discomfort or have a slight headache for one or two days. Also, the eyelid may appear swollen or red for a few days after surgery and you may experience light sensitivity for a couple of days. If you have stitches, your surgeon will remove them during one of your post op visits.
Typically, you’ll see your eye doctor a few times after the surgery. In general, complete healing occurs within three to four weeks.
Though most people look forward to clearer vision, there is always a bit of anxiety when undergoing any type of surgery. The biggest question for people new to this type of surgery is “What can I expect?”. It’s natural to feel apprehensive about having eye surgery. However, in many cases, those fears can be allayed by understanding what the treatment involves. This can help put pre-surgery jitters at ease, and allow you to focus on the positive aspects following the procedure. And in many cases, for those undergoing cataract treatment, the benefits will last a lifetime.
You can schedule a consultation with an eye specialist in Los Angeles to learn more about cataract treatment or to determine if you are a good candidate for this procedure.