What is a Cataract?
Anything you see is an image that enters your eye in the form of light. Inside your eye is a lens, much like the lens of a camera. The lens focuses the light rays coming through the pupil onto the retina at the back of the eye. The different parts of the retina collect this light and send a message to your brain, enabling you to see. A cloudy lens is called a cataract. It is not a growth or a film over the eye.
Causes of Cataract
The most common cause of cataract is the denaturation of the normal protein structure within the lens of the eye with age. There may be other causes like diabetes, kidney disease, glaucoma, smoking, eye injuries, infection and inflammation inside the eye. Prolonged use of certain medications can also lead to cataract formation.
In the early stages, you can improve your vision by changing your glasses but once the cataract progresses changing glasses will not help. You will notice some deterioration in your ability to see things clearly from a distance. You may have difficulty with glare while driving or while performing activities like reading that require clear vision. Other symptoms may be colored halos, double or multiple images in the eye when the other eye is occluded.
A cataract may develop slowly over years or rapidly within months. Often the other eye will also be affected. There are no medications, eye drops or dietary restrictions that can cure or prevent cataract formation. If the cataract interferes with your regular activities the only solution is surgery.
In cataract surgery, an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) replaces your natural clouded lens. Your new lens should restore vision to nearly what it was earlier, though you may need to wear glasses for reading or driving.
Several techniques used for removing cataract are:
Micro Incision Cataract Surgery (MICS):
This is a technique where the cataract is removed manually through an incision small of about 1.8 mm to 2.2 mm.
Advanced Bladefree robotic assisted Cataract Surgery
This is the state-of-the-art robotic assisted laser technology for the treatment of cataract. This is the world’s best cataract technology. It has advanced features through which your surgeon will be successful in providing customized and right treatment through best and 3D mapping.
Small Incision Cataract Surgery (SICS):
This is a technique where the cataract is removed manually through an incision small of about 2.8 mm. The small incision heals fast enabling you to recover quickly.
In this method a tiny instrument is inserted through a very small incision. The instrument uses ultrasound vibrations to break the cataract into fine pieces; these are then gently suctioned out. The new lens is then inserted into the eye. Usually no stitches are required to close the incision. This minimal surgery allows faster and safer healing, hastening your return to normal activity.
Your doctor will select the method of surgery that is most suitable for your case.
Planning for Surgery
It is not necessary for the cataract to mature fully or for the vision to become totally cloudy before scheduling surgery. You and your ophthalmologist should jointly decide on the time for surgery. Be sure to inform your doctor about any medications or herbal remedies that you may be using.
At the hospital our counselors will help you understand the pre-operative procedures and obtain an estimate of the expenditure involved. Prior to your surgery, you will need to undergo some routine medical and blood tests. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, bring them so that your prescription can be checked. An A-scan will help the doctor determine the power of the new lens to be implanted in your eye.
It is good to wash your face thoroughly with soap and water before coming for surgery. You will be advised to use some eye drops. Please follow the instructions carefully as these drops help dilate your eye. If your eye is not properly dilated surgery may be delayed. You may also be advised not to eat or drink anything for a few hours prior to surgery. You can bring only one attendant; children below 15 years are not allowed unless they are patients.
Though the success rate for cataract surgery is almost 98%, sometimes there may be complications. Most of these complications are minor and can be rectified. Your doctor will advise you about any specific issues related to your case.
In the operating room, the area around your eye will be cleaned thoroughly. Sterile drapes will be placed around your head and face with only the eye exposed. Usually a local anesthetic in the form of topical drops or an injection is administered next to the eye. Sometimes doctors may have to perform the surgery under general anesthesia. An oxygen tube will be placed near you nose so that you do not feel suffocated.
The actual surgery lasts about 30 minutes. You will be relaxed and awake but feel no pain. The nerves in your eye will be completely numbed so you will not be able to see or move your eye.
Care After Surgery
After surgery a bandage or shield will be placed over your eye. You will be advised to rest till you are ready to leave. You should wear protective glasses or an eye shield in the day and an eye patch at night to avoid accidental injury. The doctor will advise you when you can discontinue using them. You can bathe carefully from below your neck but do not wet the operated eye for 10 days. You may gently clean the eyelids with a piece of cotton boiled in water or a sterilized tissue.
Some Important Tips:
Frequently ask Questions:
When is the best time to get my cataract surgery done?
There is no as such restriction for the time and weather you can get your surgery done. It’s a belief that it has to be done only in the month of winter. But with new advanced surgery and technology, there is no need to wait for winters.
Would a cough prevent me from having surgery?
It is very important that you don’t cough unexpectedly during surgery. Before the operation, we can give you throat spray or a cough suppressant.
I need surgery on both eyes, when can I get second eye done?
If surgery is recommended on both eyes, you can get your second eye treated after 15 days.
Do I need to undergo physical tests before surgery?
Yes. Your general health is assessed prior to surgery by a physician so we can grant medical clearance for your surgery.
Sometimes my blood pressure gets high when I’m nervous. What happens if it’s too high?
If we are unable to manage your blood pressure with medication, your surgery may be postponed until you consult with your primary physician.
How long will this artificial lens last?
The intraocular lens is placed permanently in your eye and will not “wear out”.
Is laser used to remove my cataract?
We have a new technique called Bladefree laser cataract surgery where we use laser to remove cataract. Traditionally, in a phaco technique, your cataract was removed by ultrasound, not laser. The sound waves sound waves gently break up the cataract and it is removed from the eye.
I take several prescription medications in routine. Should I continue this before surgery?
Yes. Take all prescription medications as you normally do before surgery.
How long will it take on the day of surgery?
Surgery usually takes maximum half an hour but the entire process may take 2-3 hours. Before & after surgery, we do some tests and eye-check-up by doctor.
Will I be able to see right after the operation?
Most patients’ vision is quite blurred after the surgery due to dilating drops and the bright microscope lights.
What should I bring with me on the day of surgery?
Here is the list of things that we recommend you bring to Eye-Q on the day of surgery:
How soon may I leave after surgery?
Most patients may leave within a few hours after the surgery.
What happens before I’m discharged?
Why does it feel like there is something in my eye after my surgery?
You’ve had a microscopic incision on the surface of your eye. When you blink, you may feel a slightly scratchy sensation until the incision heals. Scratchiness is also a symptom of dry eyes. After surgery, our patients find that using artificial tears helps to alleviate the symptoms.
Should I wear my old glasses after surgery?
Wearing your old glasses will not harm your eyes, but since the prescription won’t be optimal for your surgery eye, you will probably see best without them. Most patients feel comfortable by only wearing glasses while reading.
How soon may I resume driving after surgery?
Most cataract surgery patients enjoy a significant improvement in their vision after 5-7 days. You may drive when you feel comfortable.
I see great at a distance, but why can’t I read without glasses?
Your implant is a single-focus lens. If your lens was chosen for distance vision, you will need reading glasses. Some patients elect to have one eye focused for close vision so they can read without glasses. However, this may compromise distant vision. We now can offer you the recently introduced multifocal lenses also by which you can have both distant and near vision. Doctor will recommend best lens suitable as per your eye.
I live a long distance from Eye-Q. How long must I stay for follow up?
Generally, we do eye check-up one day post-surgery. If you plan to go home immediately after surgery, please make arrangements for a qualified doctor to provide follow-up care in your area.
Will eye drops given surgery and post-surgery will hurt my eyes?
It might be possible that there is some discomfort with eye drops being prescribed. You should continue to use your eye drops. However, if your discomfort seems to be worsening, or you experience a decrease in vision, consult doctor at Eye-Q.
Will I see halos post surgery?
Yes, for few hours as pupil gets dilated during surgery. After the dilation wears off, your vision will return to normal.
Will there be any glare problem or halos problem during night post surgery?
Glare may be caused by many factors. A slight need for glasses (refractive error) is one of the most common reasons you may notice slight glare at night. Also, some patients experience minor corneal swelling after surgery that may cause temporary glare.
Post surgery, will there be any change in vision quality or colour contrast?
Patients with cataracts see their world through a yellow tint. It’s just like wearing yellow-tinted (“blue-blocker”) sunglasses. These glasses block colors from the lower end of the color spectrum like blues and violets. When the cataract is removed and replaced with a clear implant, you will see these unfamiliar colors again. This may be much more dramatic for some patients than others, depending on the cataract.