Cataracts are an eye condition that can affect almost any older individual, regardless of risk factors. Many adults over 50 experience this clouding of the lens inside the eye, but the severity varies widely. Some patients may eventually need surgery to correct this problem.
While cataract surgery may sound scary, it’s a common and safe procedure that can dramatically improve your vision and change your life for the better. More than 3 million cataract surgeries are performed across the United States every year. Surgeons have nearly perfected this surgery, so it’s well worth it for individuals who are seeing a noticeable decrease in the quality of their vision.
The Need for Surgery
It’s important to know that cataracts cannot be corrected with glasses, conventional contacts, or Lasik surgery. Cataracts involve actual damage to the lens of the eye, and there’s no way to fix this other than with surgery.
Even if your vision is only slightly impacted by cataracts, it may be worth it to go ahead and get the surgery. Driving and other daily tasks may be more impaired than you realize. Typically, cataract surgery patients see their vision improved within a few days after surgery, so the recovery time is unlikely to interfere with your life.
Cataract surgical treatment involves the placement of an intraocular lens, which replaces your eye’s natural lens and restores clear vision. Before surgery can occur, your surgical team must prepare a customized intraocular lens to match your eye. You will be tested for astigmatism and other vision problems to ensure that your new lens works perfectly and corrects as many problems as possible.
Your eye doctor will also need to know all of the medications you are taking. While cataract surgery is very safe, medications can interfere with recovery as well as the surgery itself.
Most cataract surgeons use high-frequency ultrasound devices to break down the lens in your eye, then remove the lens pieces before inserting the new one. While there is a new laser procedure available for cataract treatment, it’s less commonly available. Traditional cataract surgery remains the most popular option for cataract treatment.
You may be required to wear an eyepatch the day of the surgery, but generally, the minimally-invasive procedure allows you to return to normal tasks within 24 hours. Do not attempt to drive until your eye doctor has checked your vision the day after surgery. Avoiding dirt, grime, water, and other agents that can irritate your eye is critical to a fast and safe recovery free of complications.
Overall, though, cataract surgeries are one of the easiest that a surgeon can perform. The surgery itself only takes fifteen minutes, and a full recovery with no restrictions is usually achieved in under a month. It’s a great option for older individuals who want to maintain their independence despite the effects of aging.