When preparing for a cataract surgery, it is helpful to know what to expect and how you can best prepare for the procedure. During this Cataract Awareness Month, we are highlighting what to expect during surgical correction of cataracts, and how you can best prepare for the surgery itself as well as care and recovery after.
Since cataracts can only be treated with surgery, partnering closely with your ophthalmologist on your care plan is critical. Cataracts are a clouding of the (normally clear) lens of the eye. At the onset, they typically present as fuzzy or cloudy vision with increased sensitivity to glare. Over time, they can progress to an increasingly more debilitating state, eventually causing blindness. Your ophthalmologist can offer recommendations of ways to slow the progression of cataracts, but ultimately surgery is required to effectively treat them.
At this time, there are two surgical options available for cataract removal:
- Traditional Cataract Surgery
This surgery, also known as phacoemulsification, is the process whereby the
ophthalmologist creates a small incision in the cornea to remove the cloudy/damaged lens where cataracts are present. This is a safe, outpatient procedure that is typically done under local anesthesia. Once removed, the ophthalmologist replaces the lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Following the surgery, you can expect some discomfort for the first few days post-op. Complete healing is typically completed by around 8 weeks.
- Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery
In this surgery, a camera/ultrasound device is placed over the eye to map its surface and gather information about the lens. The device then sends its results to a computer that programs a laser. The information tells the laser the exact location, size, and depth for incisions. Leveraging this intel, the ophthalmologist uses the laser to make the corneal incision and remove the cloudy/damaged lens. Similarly to the traditional procedure above, the removed lens is then replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). Also a safe, outpatient procedure, the advantage of this option is that it can offer additional precision and take less time than traditional cataract surgery. Recovery is very similar to traditional surgery, with potential discomfort expected a few days post-operation, and complete healing around the 8-week mark.
Determining Next Steps
The best way to determine your options is by staying in close contact with your ophthalmologist and maintaining regular comprehensive eye exams. If you have cataracts, your ophthalmologist can review surgery options with you, and advise on the best choice for your unique situation. At ReFocus Eye Health, we are thrilled to have ophthalmologists on staff who serve as experts and leaders in cataract care. Our leaders are active in the field and diligently learning more about cataract care and surgical options, and sharing their findings with the ophthalmology community.
Learn more about our team and their expert approach to cataract care and surgery.