If cataracts are obscuring your vision and making it difficult for you to see, then you may need cataract surgery. In the past, this surgery required full sedation, but modern surgery for cataracts is much more streamlined and less invasive. Dr. Patel at the Wichita Vision Institute in Witchita, KS is skilled in this routine surgery for mild, moderate, and even severe cataracts. Learn more about this surgery today before you schedule your consultation.
Are You Awake During Cataract Surgery?
In general, yes, most people are awake during cataract surgery. A few decades ago, it was common to use general anesthesia for this type of surgery, but modern improvements for this surgery and advanced research into alternative sedation have made it possible to comfortably complete this procedure with only mild IV sedation.
The amount of sedative used during your surgery will depend on the degree of work that needs to be done and your preferred level of comfort. Typically, mild sedation is enough to keep you calm and relaxed for the duration of the procedure. Using mild sedatives lowers the risks of complications from general anesthesia and also makes your recovery process much easier.
Will This Surgery Hurt?
No, this surgery is not painful at all. Even though you will be awake during your surgery, anesthetic eye drops are used to numb the surface of the eye. These numbing eye drops will keep the eye comfortable for several minutes and may even still be effective for some time after your surgery is complete. Dr. Patel also administers an anesthetic solution in the eye to minimize any further discomfort.
How Does This Surgery Work?
Cataract surgery takes about 20 minutes to complete. Several small incisions will be made on the cornea, which will then be used to create a round opening in the area that holds the cataract. High-frequency ultrasound will be directed at the cataract to break up the clouding of the lens. Finally, gentle suction will be used to remove these pieces, and then your incision will be closed.
Can You Also Correct Your Vision With This Surgery?
In general, cataract surgery can correct your vision. Problems such as warped images and dull colors can easily be corrected with this surgical procedure. However, if you have additional vision problems, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, then Dr. Patel may be able to use an additional procedure to permanently correct your vision.
It’s common for patients to opt for an add-on treatment called an intraocular lens or IOL. You can think of an intraocular lens as a type of permanent contact lens. These lenses are made in a way that will correct your vision problems. Dr. Patel will place the lens over the eye through the same incision that was used to remove cataracts. Once correctly positioned, Dr. Patel will close the incision and place a protective shield over the eye to aid in your recovery.
What Will the Quality of Your Vision Be Like After Surgery?
The goal of cataract surgery is to restore your vision to 20/20. For most people, this goal is perfectly achievable. However, if you have other eye conditions, such as glaucoma, you may not be able to perfectly restore your vision. Dr. Patel will be able to give you a better idea of what you can expect from your results and explore additional corrective treatments to restore your vision.
What Is Recovery Like?
Recovering from cataract removal doesn’t take very much time at all. Most people will feel able to be up and about after a few days, although it will take four to six weeks for your eye to fully heal after the procedure. You will have follow-up appointments with Dr. Patel during your recovery period to assess how well you are responding to the procedure.
How Long Until Your Vision Stabilizes?
Most people will experience moderately blurred vision for a few days or weeks after the procedure. This is a perfectly normal part of the healing process after your cataracts are removed.
Even though your eye will be fully healed after four to six weeks, it may take additional time before your vision has fully adjusted to the surgery. This is particularly true if you opted to include IOL in your treatment or if you are needing to adjust to new glasses. You should expect your vision to stabilize after one to three months. At this time, Dr. Patel may see you to test your vision and assess whether or not you need further corrective tools.
What Are Your Post-Procedure Instructions?
You will need to follow several instructions after your procedure so you can heal fast and promote better vision. Most of your post-procedure instructions will need to be followed for about one month after your surgery, such as not rubbing your eye, not using hot water near the eye, and even avoiding wearing eye cosmetics. You will need to attend several follow-up appointments after your surgery so we can assess your healing.
During the first week after your procedure, you will need to wear an eye shield while you are sleeping. Special sunglasses to block bright light should also be worn for at least one week. You will need to avoid eye cosmetics, strenuous activity, heavy lifting, bending over, and getting anything in the eye, including water and dirt. Please do not rub or touch your eyes at all during the healing process.
Are Eye Drops Used After Surgery?
It’s common for prescription eye drops to be used after cataract surgery, although each patient may need different prescriptions. The most common eye drops to use after your surgery will be formulated with antibiotics to promote healing and prevent possible infection during the recovery process. Depending on your eye health, prescription artificial tears may also be prescribed.
If you are instructed to use eye drops after your surgery, you will need to use your prescription several times a day. Usually, two to three times a day with a drop or two in each eye is adequate. Dr. Patel will give you specific instructions for how to use your eye drops if they are prescribed after your surgery.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Are Cataracts?
A cataract is essentially a cloud that forms over the lens of the eye in the capsular bag that helps the eye focus your vision. When a cataract forms, your vision can become cloudy and warped, and some people may even have trouble with color perception. Cataracts are often a normal part of the aging process, but it can be distressing to experience marked changes in your vision. Today, cataract surgery is one of the most routine eye surgeries available.
2. What Are Common Symptoms of Cataracts?
The most common symptom of cataracts is vision deterioration, which can present in a variety of ways. Over time, deteriorating vision can make it difficult to function daily. Some of the most common visual changes include:
- Cloudy vision
- Blurred vision
- Halos and glares around lights
- Double vision
- Dull colors
- Changes in depth perception
- Difficulty reading and driving
- Difficulty seeing in the dark
More often than not, the onset of these symptoms is gradual. You may not even notice you are experiencing significant vision changes until you visit an eye doctor to change your glasses prescription. Frequent alterations of your glasses or lens prescription is another common indicator that you may be developing cataracts.
3. Is It a Good Idea to Treat Cataracts Early?
Yes. Just like most things concerning preventative medicine, treating your cataracts early is generally a good idea to preserve your vision. In fact, by treating your cataracts early, you can prevent blindness or permanent visual impairment. It’s not uncommon for patients to be diagnosed with “baby cataracts” at a routine eye exam. Depending on the condition of your vision, Dr. Patel may suggest surgery to remove these cataracts even if you are relatively young.
4. What Causes Cataracts?
The most common cause of cataracts is aging. In fact, most people over the age of 80 will have been diagnosed with cataracts or had surgery to remove cataracts. But aside from aging, there are a few other causes for this vision problem, such as eye injuries, diabetes, steroid medications, inflammation, smoking, and even radiation.
5. When Should You Have Surgery?
There is no definite age for this surgery, although most people who seek this procedure are over the age of 50. In general, the only way to know if it’s the right time for surgery is after an assessment with an eye specialist. Most of the time, eye specialists will recommend this surgery if you are experiencing symptoms that are interfering with your daily activities, particularly driving, night vision, and reading.
6. Do Cataracts Occur in Both Eyes?
Sometimes cataracts are present in both eyes and sometimes cataracts only develop in one eye. There is no way to predict if one or both of your eyes will develop cataracts as you age. The only way to determine if both eyes have cataracts is with an eye examination.
Sometimes, cataracts in one eye are more developed than cataracts in the other eye. In this case, Dr. Patel will determine whether or not performing surgery on both eyes is ideal for your treatment.
7. Can Surgery Improve Your Eye Health?
Yes. Not only can this surgery improve common vision problems and help restore your vision, but it can also be crucial to promoting better eye health. Cataracts are known to cause inflammation in the eye and increase pressure in the eye; both of these physiological stressors can lead to the development of glaucoma, which can also lead to blindness.
Removing cataracts early is the best way to protect your long-term eye health. By seeking cataract treatment promptly, you can prevent complications in your vision health and help preserve your vision.
8. Who Are Good Candidates?
Not all people who have cataracts are good candidates for surgery. For example, if you have macular degeneration or complications with your retina, this surgery may not be ideal for you. You also may not be a good candidate if you do not have healthy eyes or if your cataracts are “hyper-mature”. The only way to know if you are a good candidate for this surgery is by attending a consultation with Dr. Patel and undergoing a series of eye exams.
Improve Your Vision Today
Being able to see is essential to function independently, especially for mature adults. Surgery to remove cataracts is a common procedure that can improve your vision and prolong your eye health. This surgery is very comfortable and has a relatively fast recovery period. Please contact Wichita Vision Institute in Witchita, KS to schedule an eye exam with Dr. Patel today.