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Cataract surgery

What’s a cataract?

Cataract is a common problem, there are over 40 million cataract surgeries per year worldwide.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens of your eye which may cause your vision to be blurry or misty. They appear as opaque, cloudy patches on your eye.

Since they develop over time, half of the affected patients are over the age of 65, however it can occur at any age (especially if your blood relatives had it). In some cases people are born with cataracts. It can affect one or both of your eyes.

However as you become older cataracts are more prevalent, there are certain risk factors (besides age) which make you more prone to developing this condition such as:

  • smoking
  • diabetes
  • immune system diseases
Cataract
Cataract

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

You may not have any symptoms when cataracts begin to develop and you will be diagnosed at a routine screening by your optician.

However as the disease progresses you can experience the following symptoms:

  • Double vision
  • You see colors faded, or have a yellowish hue to your sight
  • You are not able to see well in very bright light
  • You have dim vision
  • Your glasses are getting less effective (if you’re wearing any)

It’s important to consult with an ophthalmologist if you’re experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms so they could examine you and address the issues if needed.

When is a cataract surgery needed?

A bit of cloudiness and a worsening eye-sight is a normal part of aging. Nevertheless if this is significant you should be examined by your optometrist or eye specialist who can tell whether you have cataracts or not.

The development of cataracts is an irreversible process once it starts.  However if your symptoms are mild, delaying the treatment and thinking about the risks and benefits from surgery won’t harm your eye permanently.

Currently there are no treatments available which offer help besides surgery. You don’t need to worry though because cataract surgery is an extremely safe and very routine procedure.

Surgery is needed in the following cases:

  • It interferes with your work (driving, operating machines or other professions where proper eyesight is mandatory)
  • You lost more than 30% of your eyesight
  • Other medical reasons when your ophthalmologist recommends it

How does the procedure work?

After completing the required examinations beforehand, your doctor uses eye drops to make sure you have no pain during the surgery.

Eye drops are a safe and needle-free alternative to injections and other kind of pain management tools. General anesthesia is only given in exceptional circumstances.

Your surgeon will do a tiny (smaller than 3mm) cut in the front of your eye. Through this cut they break up the opaque, gray lens into small pieces with the help of ultrasound, then they remove it. Then a new artificial intraocular lens will be implanted into your eye. When they’re finished, the incision heals itself without stiches. There’s no bleeding involved in the surgery. The whole procedure takes about 15-20 minutes.

You get a cover (or a bandage) on your eye which should not be removed for another 24 hours.

After one or two hour of observation spent in our hospital you are allowed to go home, however you will need someone to drive home, it’s not safe for you to drive yet.

Cataract surgery
Procedure of Cataract surgery

What are the benefits and risks of the cataract surgery?

When you have impaired vision the surgery always your best shot. It will restore your eyesight with a minimal risk of complications.

+Cataract surgery is a short and routine procedure
+There is absolutely no pain associated with the surgery
+You’ll experience a tremendous improvement in your vision
+Using glasses most likely won’t be necessary anymore

-After years you could develop posterior capsule opacification (PCO) where laser eye surgery is the solution
-In extreme rare cases your vision can be worse than before

Am I a good candidate for the operation?

In all cases your doctor measures whether the benefits outweigh the risks for your surgery.

There are some risks factors which make it more difficult to undergo such procedure:

  • older people are more fragile, more prone to complications
  • those who suffer from immune system diseases can have a more difficult recovery (HIV, Hepatitis)
  • with multiple eye conditions it might not be appropriate to have this surgery done

Of course if you do as your doctor ordered you to do after surgery you can greatly reduce your own risks.

How should I prepare for the surgery?

Before the procedure you will need to undergo some examinations. This allows your doctor to determine whether your health is good enough for the cataract surgery.

You will need a complete blood count test and ECG. With the results you visit an internist who will have the final say regarding your surgery.

You won’t have to stop any medication before the surgery (like blood thinners, insulin etc.) except if you’re taking supplements for your prostate problems. You should stop taking them one month prior surgery.

In the morning of the procedure you should – and you’re advised to – have breakfast and drink some fluids. That day your doctor will measure your vision again, and chooses the right lens implant for you.

What will happen to my vision after surgery?

The aim of the surgery is to restore your vision to the pre-cataract state -by removing the opaque, inadequate lens and replacing it with an artificial one-.

However a secondary purpose is to correct your vision, if you had troubles prior surgery. If you wore glasses, either you were short-sighted or farsighted, your doctor can choose a multifocal lens implant for you where you can lose your glasses and improve your vision.

Before the procedure your doctor examines your eyes to choose the perfect lens for you. There are different kinds of artificial lenses you and your doctor can choose from.

Refractive errors, short and farsightedness can be corrected with these lenses meaning you can hope a tremendous improvement in your vision after treatment.

What shall I do during the time of my recovery?

You likely won’t have a difficult recovery from a cataract surgery. You can leave the hospital after only a few hours of observation and rest in your own home. Antibiotic eye drops will be prescribed for you to prevent any infections and eliminate pain.

Restricting your activities after surgery won’t be necessary. You should be able to do your usual daily activities without problems. You can read books, watch TV, drive and so on. The only thing your doctor suggest you is to stay away from carrying heavy objects for 2 weeks.

Minor side-effects can happen but they are rare and tolerable. You should know that even though your problematic lens is removed and a new one is put in, your eye needs a few days to adjust to the changes.

A full recovery is expected some 4 weeks after surgery. This is the time when new glasses can be prescribed to you (if necessary)

Is a regular check-up important after the surgery?

Yes, a regular monitoring by your doctor is important to follow up your recovery.

One week following your surgery is the first check-up appointment you need to attend to. If you live outside Hungary the second check-up 4 weeks after treatment can happen in your home country. However it’s important not to miss these dates for your own sake.

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