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Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery involves the removal of the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. It is performed by an ophthalmologist.

Purpose/Benefits
Vision is essential to day-to-day life. Cataract surgery can restore vision to almost normal for many people. Many studies have shown that cataract surgery can return vision and improve quality of life by allowing patients to read, work, carry out hobbies, drive during the day and at night, enjoy social activities, and live life with safety and confidence, leading to independence and good emotional health.
 
During the Procedure
Cataract surgery has a low risk of complications, including:
  • Tearing or rupturing of the posterior lens capsule, which can occur during many steps of the surgery and cause the lens to move into the vitreous chamber.
  • Posterior dislocation of lens material is uncommon and the ophthalmologist will perform a vitrectomy to remove the lens. This is not a serious complication and is treatable.
  • Choroidal hemorrhage is rare and occurs more often in patients who are older and who have high blood pressure. It is not a predictable complication. If bleeding is mild the condition will resolve itself without loss of vision. If there is widespread bleeding, loss of vision is possible. Currently cataract surgery involves a very small incision, decreasing the risk and severity of bleeding.
After the Procedure
  • Eye itchiness and irritation can occur a few days after the procedure, which is normal. Avoid rubbing the eyes or placing any pressure or weight on the eyes. The affected eye will be covered and the doctor will prescribe eye drops or other medication to prevent infection, reduce inflammation, and control intraocular pressure. A few days after the surgery this discomfort will pass and complete healing usually takes 8 weeks.
  • Endophthalmitis is a severe infection in the eye and can be prevented with the use of antibiotic eye drops on the day of the procedure, cleaning around the eyes with the appropriate solution, and covering the face with a sterile drape. However, even when all preventive measures are used, the risk of infection is 1 in 3,000.
  • Retinal detachment can occur after cataract surgery. Monitor for flashes or black spots in your vision; if these occur, see your doctor as soon as possible. Retinal detachment occurs in 5-16 out of 1,000 cases and the risk is higher in patients with severe nearsightedness.
  • Cystoid macular edema is rare and occurs due to inflammation in the eye, causing leakage of the capillaries and leading to fluid collection at the macula. This reduces vision and you may notice this after surgery. It is important that you see your doctor when abnormal symptoms appear. The ophthalmologist will use optical coherence tomography with or without fluorescein angiography to check the eye. This condition can often be treated with eye drops to reduce inflammation, but some patients may need medication injected into the eye or a vitrectomy.
 
See Your Doctor
Please contact the doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
  • Vision loss.
  • Pain that is not controlled with medication.
  • Increasingly red eyes.
  • Seeing flashes of light or dots in front of the eye.
  • Nausea, vomiting or severe coughing.
The success of the procedure depends on the severity of the condition and any other eye conditions. The doctor will give you specific information after carefully assessing your eyes and before the procedure. A patient’s health plays a crucial role in the success of the surgery so any existing medical condition, such as diabetes, should be monitored and treated by the relevant doctors.
 
What if the procedure is not performed?
In many cases, waiting to undergo cataract surgery is not dangerous to your health. If you are able to see and any other medical conditions you have are well controlled, you may not need surgery for many years. Consider the following:
  • Can you see, work and drive safely?
  • Do you have trouble reading or watching television?
  • Do you have a hard time cooking, buying groceries, working the garden, climbing stairs or taking your medication?
  • Is your vision making it difficult for you to be with other people?
  • Can you see other people’s faces?
  • Do you struggle to see in bright places?
Cataracts can only be treated with surgery. In the early stages cataracts may not interfere with your daily and symptoms can be managed with new eye glasses or eye drops. When the condition affects your day-to-day life, surgery should be considered.
 

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