Cataracts are a common cause of blurred vision. When a cataract is visually significant it can affect reading, watching television and driving, especially at night. When cataracts are the cause of the reduced vision, surgery is often advised, as vision usually continues to deteriorate, as cataracts progress.
The surgical treatment of cataract involves a day surgery operation performed with local anaesthesia. The operation or phacoemulsificaion (as it is called) removes the cataract through a very small incision in the eye. Once the cataract has been removed, an intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted through this small incision. This lens unfolds inside the eye into the correct position. The incision then seals itself or is closed with one or two sutures which are usually removed postoperatively after a few weeks.
Following surgery, the eye will be padded overnight. You will be reviewed later the same day or the following day and the pad will be removed. The vision may be blurry for the first few days but it should clear over the next 2 weeks. New spectacles are usually prescribed following the surgery.
Once the pad has been removed, the eye may be left opened and sunglasses or other spectacles may be worn to protect the eye. A plastic eye shield should be worn at night for the first week following surgery to prevent any trauma to the eye.
You will be required to use eye drops following surgery. The eye drops are usually required for one month. Commonly there are 3 bottles of drops, each used 4 times a day for 2 weeks. After this the drops are tapered and usually ceased at 4 weeks after surgery. Sometimes drops have to be used for longer, or a different regime is required.
It is common for the eye to be gritty and uncomfortable for the first week after surgery. This usually settles with the eye drops. Sometimes grittiness can continue for several weeks after surgery. Rarely, severe pain can occur after surgery, and this may indicate a complication such as an infection or elevation of the intraocular pressure (IOP).
Following surgery, you should keep the eye clean and dry and take care while showering to avoid getting water in the eye for the first two weeks. You should also avoid prolonged coughing, straining, bending, or heavy lifting for one month following surgery. Swimming should be avoided for at least two months following surgery. You may walk about and perform your usual daily activities after a few days as long as care and hygiene is maintained.
CONCERNS AND EXPECTATIONS
Post-operatively, you can expect a change in your refraction. This may affect your vision and spectacle strength.
Occasionally, unpredicted variations can occur resulting in significant changes in spectacle strength. Please ask your doctor about your likely visual results both with and without spectacles before your surgery.
Many patients experience black spots or floaters in their vision after surgery. These are usually not significant, however mention them to your doctor on your next visit should you experience them.
Haloes, glare and distortion of lights occur frequently. These usually fade with time
Colours are brighter and contrast is enhanced. You may find that you are more sensitive to sunlight. This is normal. Wearing good quality sunglasses will help.
Some people notice grittiness as the wound heals. This settles with time. In some patients, the posterior capsule thickens with time causing clouding and reduction of vision. This requires treatment by YAG laser. The procedure is non-painful and gives an immediate improvement in vision.