Are you one of the approximately three million people in the United States who will get cataract surgery this year? You probably already know that the procedure involves removing the clouded lens of your eye and replacing it with an artificial one. That might sound scary, but cataract surgery is a common and very safe outpatient procedure. Here’s what you need to know to put your mind at ease before you hit the operating room.
Your Surgeon Won’t Operate on Both Eyes at Once
Don’t worry about temporary blindness after your surgery. If you have cataracts in both eyes, your surgeon will do one at a time so you can still see with your other eye. After your first procedure is fully healed, your surgeon will operate on the other eye. You may experience impaired depth perception and peripheral vision with only one good eye, but you should be able to go about your daily activities as normal.
You May Have Post-Operative Inflammation
Mild discomfort, blurry vision and itching are normal following cataract surgery, but some patients also experience post-operative inflammation. It’s important to treat inflammation because it can interfere with the healing process. Your doctor will prescribe either an oral steroid or ocular steroids in the form of drops that are delivered directly into the eye.
Your Glasses Prescription Will Change
Because visual acuity is largely determined by the shape of your eye’s lens, replacing it with an artificial one usually necessitates a change in your glasses prescription. You may also have the option of further vision correction during surgery, which can let you ditch those spectacles for good. Your doctor will probably recommend that you wait until both of your eyes are fully healed before investing in new glasses.
Your Cataracts Can’t Return After Surgery
Many patients wonder if they will have to get cataract surgery again one day. The good news is that cataracts can’t return after a lens replacement, but some patients develop a condition called posterior capsule opacification that has similar symptoms to their original cataract. Fortunately, this problem can be corrected with a painless five-minute procedure.
Although cataract surgery is a relatively easy surgery, you will still be out of commission for a few days. Not only will your vision be impaired after the surgery, but you will also be groggy from the anesthesia. Remember to schedule enough time off work, and make sure you have a friend to drive you home from your appointment.