Cataract surgery is typically safe and effective and has transformed many lives by restoring clear vision. Like any medical procedure, cataract surgery is not without potential risks and complications, such as infection, bleeding, and inflammation, which you can discuss with your eye doctor.
Routine eye exams can detect and diagnose cataracts before they affect your vision or lead to vision loss.
What Is a Cataract?
A cataract is a medical condition characterized by clouding or opacification of the eye’s lens—the clear structure inside the eye that transmits and focuses light onto the retina at the back. Clouding of the lens can lead to a decrease in vision quality.
Cataracts typically develop slowly over time, leading to impaired vision. Cataracts are more common in older individuals, but they can also occur in younger people, especially after an eye injury or surgery for another eye condition. There are even some inherited pediatric cataracts that can be present in children at birth.
When a cataract forms, it scatters and distorts the light entering the eye, which results in poor vision. Common symptoms of cataracts include:
- Blurry, hazy, or cloudy vision
- Double vision in one eye only
- Difficulty seeing in low-light conditions
- Increased sensitivity to glare
- Colours appearing faded or less vibrant
- Halos around lights
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions
Vision correction for early cataracts sometimes just requires a change in your glasses or contact lens prescription. Small measures such as using brighter lights, wearing anti-glare sunglasses, or using magnifying lenses can also help manage vision with cataracts.
When cataracts interfere with daily activities like watching TV, driving, and reading or they affect your independence and ability to do your job effectively, your optometrist may recommend cataract surgery after considering the risks and benefits.
During & After Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens from the eye and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). While the procedure itself is relatively quick, the healing process can take time.
After cataract surgery, your eye doctor will provide instructions on how to care for your eyes. When your eyes have healed completely, you may need a new glasses or contact lens prescription to see clearly.
Advantages of Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery is generally safe, low-risk, and effective, and it can significantly improve vision clarity and quality, where 9 out of 10 people experience better vision. After surgery, colours may also appear brighter because of the clarity of the new intraocular lens.
Side Effects & Risks of Cataract Surgery
While many people with cataracts experience improved vision quickly after surgery, not everyone achieves perfect visual acuity.
After surgery, you may experience some side effects, such as:
- Sensitivity to light and touch
- Blurry vision
- Mild soreness
- Halos around lights
Side effects and fluctuations in vision are typically temporary during the initial recovery period, and most will resolve as the eye heals and adjusts to the new lens.
Other eye health problems can affect the outcome of cataract surgery in people or increase their risk of complications:
Like any surgical procedure, cataract surgery carries inherent risks. A small percentage of people who undergo cataract surgery may experience adverse reactions, including:
- Retinal detachment
- Double vision
- Changes in eye pressure
- Secondary cataracts
Tips for Healing After Cataract Surgery
- Follow instructions: Your eye doctor will prescribe eye drops to prevent infection and inflammation. Adhering to the prescribed dosage and schedule is very important.
- Rest for a day or two after cataract surgery.
- Protect your eyes: Wear a protective shield while sleeping for the first few days, or as your eye doctor recommends. Also, avoid rubbing or putting pressure on the operated eye for 2 weeks.
- Avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, and bending over for the first 2 weeks. As a general rule of thumb, you should not do anything that requires you to strain or breathe heavily.
- Avoid getting soap in your eyes when you shower or bathe for 2 weeks.
- No swimming for one month after surgery.
- Do not wear makeup for one week after surgery.
- Avoid driving for at least 24 hours after surgery.
Your eye doctor will inform you when to come in for follow-up appointments after surgery. However, if you experience the following symptoms after cataract surgery, call or visit your eye doctor immediately:
- Vision loss
- Pain that won’t subside, even with prescribed medication
- Increased redness
- Flashing lights
Restore Your Vision with Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery has revolutionized vision care in older adults, restoring sight and enhancing the lives of countless individuals. However, it’s imperative to approach cataract surgery with a comprehensive understanding of its benefits and potential risks.
While there are disadvantages to cataract surgery, these are typically outweighed by tremendous improvements in visual function and overall quality of life. Book an appointment with Vista Eyecare for a visual health assessment and discuss if cataract surgery is right for you.