Cataract surgery involves replacing the natural lens in your eye, which has become cloudy due to cataracts, with a clear, artificial lens.
An ophthalmologist (a doctor who specialises in eye health) performs the surgery, which is an outpatient procedure. This means you do not stay overnight at the hospital and can return home on the same day.
A few weeks before your surgery, you will be assessed by your ophthalmologist. They will measure the size and shape of your eye to determine the most appropriate artificial lens to replace your natural, cloudy one. There are several options, including artificial lenses for near vision or far vision, as well as bifocal artificial lenses that enable you to focus at certain distances, both near and far.
Your ophthalmologist will ask some questions, such as whether you take any medications or supplements. These may increase your risk of complications, so you may need to stop taking them a few weeks or days before your surgery.
This is also a good time to ask any questions you have about your surgery. Once you have been fully informed about what your surgery involves and the risks, you will be asked to sign a consent form to authorise your cataract surgery.
Your surgery will be carried out in a hospital. You will need to stop eating food six hours before your surgery but can continue to drink water up to two hours before your surgery.
An hour before your surgery, antibiotic eye drops may be applied to your eye to help prevent infection.
You will be awake throughout the procedure but will not feel any pain as you will be given a local anaesthetic, either as an injection around the eye or as eye drops. You may see some light and feel some movement but will not be able to see what your surgeon is doing.
Your surgeon will look through a special microscope and make some tiny cuts into your eye with a laser or blade. They will then use small instruments to break up your cloudy lens and remove the pieces. Then, a new, artificial lens is placed where your old lens used to sit.
In most cases, the cuts are so small that you won’t need any stitches. However, if your surgeon needs to make larger cuts, you may need stitches, which will dissolve after several weeks.
A shield will be placed over your eye to protect it while you heal. You will need to rest in the recovery room for about 30 minutes before you can go home.
If you need cataracts removed from both eyes, one eye will be operated on first and the second eye will be operated on around three weeks later.
You should use the eye drops prescribed by your ophthalmologist, as instructed.
Always wear your protective eye shield when sleeping for the first week after surgery. Also, when washing your face, avoid getting any water or soap in your eye and do not press or rub your eye.
It can take four to six weeks to completely recover from cataract surgery, after which you can enjoy clearer vision.
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