Know All About Cataract Surgery

CONTENTS

How Do I Fix Cataract?

Cataract occurs when protein builds up in the lens of one’s eye, preventing light from entering the eye and thereby causing some loss of vision. These may occur due to natural ageing, medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or obesity, smoking, heavy drinking, exposure to toxic drugs or due to a traumatic injury to the eye or due to a family history. Cataract causes cloudy and blurry vision, double vision, nearsightedness,  and colour blindness which may lead to eventual partial or full blindness.


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Cataract Surgery can help a patient get rid of double vision and colour blindness.

What Is Cataract Surgery?

An individual suffering from a cataract in his/her eye should for long term relief, opt for a cataract surgery, in which the clouded lens is replaced with an IOL. 

This clears the patient’s vision and prevent permanent vision loss. The surgery is relatively less intricate than most other ophthalmological procedures and does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. The surgery is safe and has exceptional success rates.

Cataract Surgery is also known as Cataract Removal.


Who Are The Ideal Candidates For Cataract Surgery?

Patients will be denied surgery if they are too advanced in age, have a pre-existing eye disease like glaucoma or dry eyes, or have a poor health condition.

Patients who may have to wait to have surgery, or not have surgery at all include:

Pregnant or nursing women: changes in hormones can affect vision.

Patients with dry eyes: sometimes surgery can increase dryness.

Patients on medications that can cause a change in vision. For example, antidepressants cause chronic eye dryness. Persistent dryness leads to blurred vision and increased risk of infection.


What Are The Different Types Of Cataract Surgeries?

  • Extracapsular surgery: During this kind of cataract surgery, the surgeon makes a medium-sized slit on the side of the cornea. The cloudy central section of the lens is slipped out of the eye in one piece. Then, the surgeon vacuums out the rest of the lens. This type of cataract surgery is often used for advanced cataracts when the lens is dense.
  • Phacoemulsification: It is also called “small incision cataract surgery”, and is an advanced form of extracapsular cataract surgery. Under a local anaesthetic, the surgeon performing phacoemulsification makes a small opening on the side of the cornea. A device that sends ultrasound vibrations is inserted into the eye, which breaks the lens into small pieces. The fragments are then removed by suction through the small incision in the eye.
  • Intracapsular cataract surgery: This is an old type of cataract surgery, during which the lens is not broken into pieces before removal, but removed in one piece. Rarely used today, this procedure requires a larger cut than extracapsular surgery but may be required in special cases such as trauma or dislocated lenses. After the cataract is removed, the surgeon usually replaces it with a new, man made lens called an intraocular lens or IOL. The IOL is a clear plastic or silicone lens selected to fit your eye. It helps to restore normal vision.

 


 

What To Do Before Cataract Treatment?

  • Soft contact lenses must be removed one week prior to your intraocular lens measurement and power calculation exam. Hard contact lenses must be removed two weeks prior to the exam. This is because contact lenses wear may cause an error in the results of the implant power measurement.
  • Do not eat any solid food for 6 hours prior to the surgery. The objective is to empty the stomach so the risk of inhaling stomach contents into the lungs is reduced.
  • Do not apply makeup on the day of your surgery.
  • Arrange transportation to and from the surgery clinic for the day of surgery and the day after surgery because you won’t be able to drive yourself home after surgery.

 


 

What Is The Post-Operative Care For Cataract Treatment

  • Avoid getting soap in your eye. Avoid creams, lotions and make-up around the operated eye. 
  • Do not swim, lift weights or engage in contact sports, including tennis and racquetball for one week after your surgery. These can result in accidental damage to your eyes.
  • You can go out, but try to avoid crowded and dusty places to avoid complications during the after care recovery. 
  • Wearing sunglasses when you are outdoors may help to keep your eyes comfortable and less sensitive to light.
  • Do not swim; do not use a hot tub, visit a sauna or spa. This is because there will be a small wound in your eye after surgery, and you need to prevent it from getting contaminated.

What Is The Diet For A Cataract Surgery?

Avoid sugar and keep sweet foods to a minimum. Sugar prevents white blood cells from being their strongest. White blood cells are important because they give immunity to our body against pathogens.

Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins.

Carrots and other red, yellow, orange, and dark-green leafy vegetables contain beta carotene which help in protecting the immune system.

A cup of kale will give you your daily requirement of vitamin A. This is an antioxidant that helps your body respond to invaders. Garlic is another good antibacterial, immune-boosting food.


What Are The Realistic Expectations From A Cataract Surgery?

  • Cataract surgery aka cataract removal aims to clear vision if it has become cloudy. In the procedure, the artificial lens replaces the natural ones through various methods. Cataract treatment results in a clear vision, sometimes with a 20/20 acuity, though it might not be a universal result for all cases. Hence, it is realistic to expect that you might have to continue wearing glasses or contact lenses after the surgery. 

  • Although the usual patients diagnosed with cataracts are aged 60+, you can even develop cloudy or dark vision in your 30s. Hence, undergoing the procedure at such a time in your life in not completely unlikely and depends highly on your biological disposition to cataract. 

  • After your procedure, expect your eyes to experience some discomfort due to the change in your lenses. During the recovery time, you can feel mild irritation, slight sensation of burning, and watering.


What Are The Pros And Cons Of Cataract Surgery?

  • Pros

  • Cons

  • Cataract Surgery is a simple and painless procedure.
  • The tiny incision made in the cornea allows for a very fast recovery. It is so fast that the surgeon checks on the patient a couple of hours after surgery and if everything is in order, then he/she is immediately discharged.  
  • The surgery can be considered almost riskless, with a risk factor less than 10%. 
  • The surgery benefits the patient and improves his quality of life by decreasing the cloudiness of the eye and hence allowing mobility of the patient.

  • Adverse reaction to Anesthesia which can easily be avoided by precise patient history which gives a definite idea about the patient's allergies and metallic disorders. 
  • Post-operative itching and inflammation of the cornea in some people which can be controlled by the administration of eye drops (steroidal or otherwise). The administration of such eye drops is at the advice of the surgeon/doctor. 
  • Displacement of implant resulting in damage to retina, which happens in very rare cases with a risk factor of less than 10%. 
  • Eye infection is also possible due to incomplete sterilization of equipment in some hospitals. This can be solved by choosing a highly accredited, renown hospital. 
  • Fragments of the Cataractous lens may be left inside which leads to a secondary surgery. This can be prevented, again by choosing a good hospital and more specifically a highly-trained, experienced doctor.
  • The biggest disadvantage for some people is the cost of Cataract Surgery. This can be addressed by medical travel.

Who Should Avoid Undergoing Cataract Surgery?

Cataract is ideally for individuals who have developed a cloudy vision. However, individuals opting for the surgery need to be clear certain eye tests to be eligible for cataract treatment.

Once you are diagnosed with cataracts, there isn’t much that you can do but undergo the surgery in order to get clear vision. However, if might be the case that the stage of your cataract is relatively early and does not hamper daily activities, you can avoid surgery by engaging in the best practices to lower the advancement of cloudiness. These include eating nutritious food, especially those rich in vitamin C and vitamin E. A doctor will usually determine the stage of your cataract and will advise you whether you should go for the treatment.

 


 

What Are The Alternatives To Cataract Surgery?

People may prefer choosing alternate treatment options to cataract surgery, that do not involve a surgery.

Eye drops - A number of non surgical options are now available, of which the most effective has proven to be the use of N-acetylcarnosine eyedrops. These eye drops significantly improve glare sensitivity and cure cataracts over 2-3 years. 

Traditional medicine - Another option for treating cataracts is a combination of Chinese botanicals called “Hachimi-jio-gan”, which help cure the early formation of cataracts. 

Lifestyle changes - Other solutions include making dietary changes such as including an increased intake of Vitamin A, vitamin E and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin from food and supplements along with eliminating carbohydrates and sugar from one’s diet. 

Eyewear - Use of glasses, contact lenses, strong bifocals, magnification and other visual aids do help in improving vision, albeit only temporarily, after which a surgery becomes necessary.

 


 

Does Cataract Surgery Lead To Scarring?

Cataract surgery does not leave any permanent scars. You may have a black eye if your surgeon uses injections of anesthetic to numb the eye. If your surgeon uses topical anesthetics (drops) only, then you will not have a black eye. 

Whether the stitches in the eye will dissolve on their own or not will depend on whether your surgeon used dissolvable sutures or non-dissolvable sutures. Sutures may have to be removed at a later date. If they have to be removed, then they are non-dissolvable.

 


 

What Are The Temporary Side Effects Of Cataract Surgery?

You can expect several minor complications following cataract removal. Some of these are:

  • Pain in the eye
  • Infection 
  • Swelling around the eye
  • Bleeding 

However, these side effects are temporary and rare in the case of a surgery well performed. In case you experience any of these effects, get in touch with your doctor. 

The more usual risks include:

  • Sensitivity to light for a while 
    • Use sunglasses when going out in the sun and avoid direct contact with sunlight
  • Blurred vision 
    • It lasts for a temporary period of time. Let the eyes get accustomed to the artificial lens and do not exert the eyes by reading or playing video games.

 


 

How To Choose A Surgeon For Cataract Surgery?

Choosing the right surgeon is the most crucial decision, when it comes to cataract surgery. The eyes are a sensitive organ and your operating surgeon should have considerable expertise and experience for the treatment to be a success. Making sure your surgeon is the right one is not difficult. 

The first consideration should be the surgeon’s educational background, and experience followed by the consideration of hospital that he/she is associated with. The hospital should provide healthcare amenities and standards that allow for a smooth treatment. 

The procedure of the surgery involves the replacement of the lens inside the eye with an artificial lens that restores clear vision. This is done through the use of a high-frequency ultrasound device or a laser. These break the cloudy lens. This is followed by the insertion of the artificial lens behind the iris and pupil. 

There are a number of complications that can arise due to inefficiency on the part of the medical team operating on you. Some of them are:

  • Toxic Anterior Segment Syndrome (TASS): A postoperative inflammatory reaction 
  • Endophthalmitis: Infection in the eye
  • Cystoid Macular Edema: Swelling of the cornea

Hence, your choice of doctor for the treatment affects the success of the surgery till a great extent.

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