If your eyes have been bothering you and you are concerned that you may require cataract surgery, you likely have several questions on your mind. This article will seek to give answers to five of the most common questions potential cataract surgery patients ask so we can ease your own worries and encourage undergoing the procedure.
What Does Cataract Surgery Accomplish?
Cataracts lead to blurry vision and amplify the glare from light sources. If you have a cataract that makes it challenging to do everyday tasks, your doctor may recommend cataract surgery. Surgery is also recommended when a cataract poses a problem in treating another eye issue. Most of the time, waiting will not damage the eye, giving you plenty of time to think things through. The main factors you should assess would be:
- Can you safely work and drive?
- Is it hard to look at text/screens?
- Are everyday tasks challenging?
- Does your vision restrict your independence?
- Do bright lights flood your vision?
How Long Does Cataract Surgery Take?
So how long does cataract surgery take? While cataracts can take years to manifest, cataract surgery is usually finished under an hour. As for a specific window of time, that depends on the approach.
- Laser. Laser surgery takes no more than 15 minutes. After 2-3 minutes of using the laser to make an incision or clear the obstructive cataract, the surgeon spends the remaining time replacing the old cataract with a new lens.
- Basic/Routine. Basic cataract surgery takes roughly as long as laser surgery but all of the work is done by the surgeon’s hand and scalpel.
- Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE). If “phacoemulsification” is possible, which is like laser surgery but with ultrasound technology, it takes 10-15 minutes. In situations where a larger incision must be made and phacoemulsification is impossible, the process takes 30-45 minutes.
- Intracapsular Cataract Extraction (ICCE). This is another infrequent-but-sometimes-necessary technique within the USA. The cataract is wrapped within a capsule that remains within the optic cavity for the rest of your days. The capsule is then opened up so that the cataract can be swapped out for a lens implant. This form of cataract surgery can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.
What Are the Risks?
Most complications for this surgery are rare but treatable. Potential risks include the following:
- Inflammation or swelling
- Drooping eyelid.
- Detached retina or dislocation of the artificial lens.
- Vision loss or glaucoma.
- A secondary cataract.
Complications can arise if another eye disease or serious medical condition is present. Sometimes the surgery fails due to underlying eye damage from other problems. Generally speaking, cataract surgery should come after more severe eye issues have been treated.
How Long Is the Recovery Period?
While every patient is unique and has their own varied list of conditions, the average cataract surgery patient tends to make a full recovery after one or two days. Note that this figure is just on average and some patients may have a troublingly slow natural healing factor.
Are There Any Precautions?
Your doctor may advise that you avoid eating or drinking anything 12 hours ahead of the procedure. You may also be told to stop any medications that influence bleeding. Inform your doctor if you take any medications for the prostate as those drugs can negatively influence the procedure. Antibiotic eyedrops may be prescribed for use in the days leading up to the procedure.
While you are free to leave after your surgery is done, you will not be able to drive yourself home. Consider asking someone to stay with you for around a week after the procedure to help you around your residence.
If you have been considering getting your eyes improved, you now have a good idea of why cataract surgery might be useful to you. You certainly have a better idea of why it might be necessary, how long it takes to recover from, what to do before having the surgery and even how the procedure can between 15 minutes to one full hour to perform.