When cataracts progress enough that they infringe upon your quality of life, that is when we recommend you start thinking about cataract surgery. Though the idea of having eye surgery can make some people nervous, cataract surgery is one of the safest and most commonly performed procedures in the United States. In addition to removing your cataract, cataract surgery offers refractive benefits that may mean better eyesight without glasses than you had even before cataracts. The decision of when to have cataract surgery, what type of intraocular lens to have implanted, and how the surgery is performed will be unique to every individual based on their eyes, their health, and their vision preferences.
Before surgery, you will undergo a cataract evaluation. You should expect this evaluation to last a couple of hours because your ophthalmologist will need a lot of information about your eyes to prepare for surgery.
The cataract evaluation begins with an ophthalmic technician, who will ask about your current medications, your medical history, and your cataract symptoms. You will then undergo a variety of diagnostic tests to determine the shape of your eye. This will help determine the best type of lens and lens power for your lens replacement.
Next, you will meet with the ophthalmologist who will perform your surgery. Your surgeon will discuss your symptoms and vision concerns with you. They will also conduct a dilated exam to rule out the possibility of other eye diseases that could be impacting your vision.
Finally, a surgery coordinator will schedule your surgery date, review your insurance coverage, and coordinate any other medical appointments your may require before surgery, such as with a cardiologist, a pulmonologist, or a primary care doctor.
Cataract surgery takes about 20 minutes. Most patients report very little discomfort, if any. Before the surgery, anesthetic eye drops are administered. To begin, a 2.4 mm incision is made at the junction of the cornea and the sclera. A small probe is inserted in the incision and used to break up the cataract. The cataract pieces are then suctioned out. The replacement intraocular lens you and your doctor have decided on will be inserted through the incision. You will not be able to feel this lens when it is inside your eye. In most cases, stitches are not required and the incisions will self-seal. Cataract surgery at the Marietta Eye Clinic is performed on an outpatient basis, so you will be able to go home afterward. Just make sure to arrange for travel before your appointment.
Cataract surgery at the Marietta Eye Clinic is performed on one eye at a time. You can expect your eye to heal in about 2 weeks. Most patients will need glasses for some activities, but your level of dependency on glasses should be greatly reduced after surgery. Depending on the type of intraocular lenses you have implanted, you may require glasses for fine print or in dim lighting.
If you are experiencing symptoms of cataracts and you feel they are holding you back, it may be time to schedule a cataract evaluation with your ophthalmologist. If you and your doctor decide cataract surgery is the best course of action, your surgical team will guide you every step of the way to help you make the best decisions for your health and your vision goals.
Dr. Tran is a comprehensive ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon at the Marietta Eye Clinic. Dr. Tran earned his medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine and completed a residency at Cullen Eye Institute at the Baylor College of Medicine. He is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the American College of Physicians, and the American Medical Association. Read more about Dr. Tran here.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. It describes itself as a “global community of 32,000 medical doctors who protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public.” Its website is a great resource to learn more about how to care for your eyes.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) describes itself as the leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation’s health, representing more than 44,000 doctors of optometry (O.D.), optometric professionals, and optometry students.
What Are Cataracts?
Cataract Diagnosis and Treatment
IOL Implants: Lens Replacement After Cataracts
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