Being a myopic since childhood, Mr Bose started experiencing vision problems for the past few months. At 65, he thought he might need to change his glasses and need a new prescription. But gradually, his eyesight became so blurry that he didn’t have clear vision even when looking across the room.
A visit to the eye specialist revealed that he had a cataract in both the eyes. The left eye needed immediate operation while the cataract in the right eye was still at its initial stage. The doctor immediately recommended surgery for cataract removal on the left eye. The operation didn’t take much time but Mr Bose was worried about the recovery process. Since it was a matter of his vision and he didn’t want to take any risk.
The recovery process for cataract is short and usually do not cause any major issues as long as you don’t have any other serious eye issues. In most of the cases, the patients experience improved vision shortly after the surgery.
Usually, a cataract surgery does not take more than 10 minutes. Immediately after the surgery, you will need to rest for about half an hour as it takes a bit time to recover from the effect of anaesthesia.
Almost everyone who has undergone cataract surgery is provided with Intraocular Lens (IOL). These lenses help in focusing the light properly on the retina. This lens becomes a part of your eye permanently and needs no additional care.
There is a wide range of IOLs available and it’s the eye specialist who decides which lens will work the best for you. However, before the surgery, the eye specialist usually discusses the options with you and then decides which lens will best suit your lifestyle.
IOLs are made of various materials such as silicone, acrylic or plastic. Some IOLs can block UV rays. Some lenses are made of rigid plastic. These plastic lenses are usually implanted through an incision which needs stitches for closing them. However, some IOLs are extremely flexible and need a small incision that requires just a few or no sutures at all. During the surgery, the eye surgeon folds such lenses and put them into the empty capsule, replaces the natural eye lens. Once inside, the folded IOL unfolds and takes the empty place.
Types of IOLs include:
- Fixed-focus monofocal: This lens has single focus strength for distance vision. For precision activities such as reading, you will need to use reading glasses.
- Accommodating-focus monofocal: This lens has a single focusing strength but they can adjust with the movement of the eye muscle and can shift focus as needed.
- Multifocal: This type of lens is similar to progressive lenses or bifocal glasses. The lens has multiple focusing strengths that allow near, medium, and far vision.
- Toric Lenses: This lens is mainly used for correcting astigmatism.
What to Expect During the Surgery?
Cataract surgery usually doesn’t take much time to perform. It takes less than an hour for the surgery. The doctor first puts eye drops in your eye for dilating the pupil. You will be given local anaesthetics for numbing the area. The doctor may even give you a sedative to help you relax. If you’re given a sedative, you will remain awake throughout the procedure but a bit groggy.
The doctor will then remove the clouded lens, and replace it with a clear artificial lens. In some cases, the cataract is also removed without implanting an IOL.
The surgical processes involved in Cataract surgery include:
- Using ultrasound probe: Often, an ultrasound probe is used for breaking and removing the lens. The process is usually called Phacoemulsification. Here, the surgeon makes a small incision in the cornea. He/she will insert a thin needle-like probe into the lens where the cataract has formed. The probe transmits ultrasound waves for breaking the cataract. Using the probe, the doctor suctions out the broken lens fragments. The lens capsule is left intact. It is here where the artificial lens rests. The doctor may or may not put stitches for closing the small incision in the cornea after completing the process.
- Using advanced laser technique: Laser-assisted cataract surgery is another technique for cataract removal. The surgeon uses a laser for making incisions and then softens the cataract before removal.
- Extracapsular Cataract Extraction: This is a less frequent process where the doctor removes the lens without breaking it. This needs a larger incision than that is made for phacoemulsification. Through this incision, the surgeon removes the front capsule of the lens with the surgical tools along with the cloudy part of the lens containing the cataract. The back capsule of the lens is left in place for holding the artificial lens. This procedure is only performed when you have certain eye complications. The incisions are stitched up after the surgery.
After Cataract Surgery
After cataract surgery, you will see that your vision has started to improve within a few days. Don’t be alarmed if you see that your vision is blurry or wavy. It’s normal for the eyes to adjust to the new vision. It takes time to heal and then adjust. After that, you will be able to see clearly. The colours will appear brighter as you are seeing through a new lens after the surgery. A cataract is usually brownish or yellowish tinted and that’s why you see muted colours.
You need to follow up with your eye doctor a day or two after the surgery. Visit him or her as per the schedule. This is important as the doctor needs to monitor your healing process.
Do not be sceptical if your eye feels itchy. It’s absolutely normal to feel mild discomfort along with itching for a few days post-surgery. Avoid touching your eye. You may even develop bloodshot eyes. Don’t worry. This happens as the blood vessels in the eye surface (the white part) are temporarily damaged due to the surgery. It takes a few days for the vessels to heal completely. As your eye heals, you will see that the redness has vanished within a few days.
If, before the surgery, the doctor has given you an injection of anaesthesia just in the lower portion of your eye, you will also notice a small bruise that’s similar to black eye. This also fades within a few days.
You may need to wear an eye patch after the surgery. The doctor might suggest you wear it for a few days after the surgery. You have to wear it even when you sleep. This is just to make sure that you do not accidentally touch the eye.
The doctor usually prescribes eye drops or any other medication for preventing infection, reducing inflammation, and for controlling the eye pressure, http://www.papsociety.org/prednisone/. Sometimes, he or she may inject steroid medications into the eye during the surgery so as to avoid inflammation.
Your eyes might feel dry or you may experience scratchiness after the surgery. These sensations go away as your eyes heal unless you already have dry eyes prior to the surgery. After a couple of weeks, most of the problems subside. In majority of the cases, complete healing occurs within 8 weeks. In case you experience these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:
- Vision loss
- A persisting pain despite using over-the-counter medications
- Increased redness in the eye
- Light flashes
- Multiple floaters in the line of vision
Usually, after cataract surgery, you have to wear glasses, at least for some time. Your doctor will examine the eye and let you know whether they have healed enough to get a final prescription for glasses or not. This is usually between one and three months after surgery.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, the doctor never operates on both the eyes at the same time. You will undergo the second surgery only after the first eye has healed completely.
Ensure the Best Recovery: Dos and Don’ts during the Recovery Period
You will be surprised to see that you are able to resume normal activities just a day after the surgery. However, everyone should observe a few precautions during the first week after the surgery. This is a must for avoiding any infection or to avoid sustaining an injury to the eye while it heals.
The doctor will give you an antibiotic eye drop for preventing infection and anti-inflammatory eye drop to reduce any internal inflammation. Depending on the post-operative inflammation that you have, you may need to apply the drops for a few weeks or about a month. Ensure that you are applying the drops as recommended by the doctor. The doctor may also prescribe oral painkillers (acetaminophen), if necessary.
Here are a few dos and don’ts that will ensure the best recovery:
- Apply the eye drops as per the schedule provided by the ophthalmologist. In any case, you have to strictly adhere to the routine provided by the doctor. Eye drop needs to be applied daily for a few weeks after the surgery.
- You may resume light day-to-day activities such as watching TV, reading, writing and walking. Always keep your physical activities light.
- Wear your protective eye cover always, even when you are sleeping. And always sleep on the side that hasn’t been operated on.
- When taking a shower, keep your eyes closed. Make sure that water or soap doesn’t enter your eyes.
- On the day of surgery, as well as the next day after the surgery, it is important that you rest and relax properly. This promotes healing.
- After the surgery, the doctor will provide you with a protective shield, and you have to wear it on your operated eye until the doctor says that your eyes are fit enough to go without the shield. The doctor will also give you special eye shades in case you have to go out.
- Never rub your eye or apply anything to your eyes, even water. This will increase the chance of infection.
- Immediately after the surgery, avoid bending. This prevents putting extra pressure on your eye.
- Never swim or use a hot tub, at least for two weeks after the surgery. Even a small drop of water makes your eyes vulnerable to infection.
- Do not drive for 24 hours after cataract surgery.
- Do not indulge in any strenuous activity, such as strenuous exercise, lifting weights etc. This should be followed for at least the first week following the surgery. Your eyes need about a month to fully recover. So it’s safe to avoid strenuous activity during this time.
- Do not wear any eye makeup until your ophthalmologist allows.
- Avoid any activity that exposes your eyes to dirt or dust. Patients who stay in dry and dusty environment should avoid going outdoors. When going out, you must wear a special protective eyewear provided by the doctor. Dust and sand particles may scratch your eye surface making the eye prone to infection.
- Be careful when walking around after surgery. Try not to bump into doors or any other objects.
Usually, after a cataract surgery, you should be able to perform these activities within a few hours:
- Working on a computer
- Watching TV (not for long hours)
Following the doctor’s suggestion is the best way to ensure a fast recovery. Follow the post-operative instructions as provided by your doctor as he or she is the best person to evaluate your condition and suggest the best possible way. The points discussed here is a handy guide to give you an overview of the things that you should follow during your recovery process.
Blurry vision? Do not ignore because it might be a symptom of cataract. Consult an eye specialist immediately. If you are looking for a good hospital where you can undergo cataract surgery or want to know cataract surgery cost in Kolkata, get in touch with us today at http://www.dishaeye.org/contact-us.