What is cataract surgery? Is there any risk? Is surgery mandatory for cataracts? How does the operation process work? How long does recovery take? What is the price of cataract surgery? You can find the answers to all these questions and much more below.
What is cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is the surgical removal of the lens of the eye when cataracts develop. Cataract surgery restores vision when the cataract causes vision loss.
A cataract is a clouding or loss of transparency in the lens of the eye. Cataracts prevent vision and usually develop as a result of normal aging. In most cases, the diseased lens is replaced with an artificial lens implant called an intraocular lens. The intraocular lens becomes a permanent part of your eye.
Cataract surgery is a common surgery with significant risks and potential complications. However, you may have less invasive treatment options other than surgery. You should also consider getting a second opinion on all your treatment options before having cataract surgery.
Types of cataract surgery
Types of cataract surgery procedures include:
- Phacoemulsification is cataract surgery with short or small incisions. In this procedure, your surgeon makes a small incision on the side of your cornea, in the clear dome that covers the front of your eye. A small ultrasound probe is inserted through the incision. The ultrasound probe softens and shatters your lens. Your doctor removes the lens by suction and replaces it with an artificial lens.
- Extracapsular surgery requires a slightly longer incision on the side of your cornea. Your surgeon removes your entire lens in one piece through this incision. The intraocular lens is inserted through this incision.
Types of intraocular lens implants
Types of intraocular lens implants include:
- The adaptive lens , also known as a smart lens , moves back and forth in response to your eye muscles. It mimics the movement of your natural lens. This provides excellent near, intermediate and far vision. A compatible lens can reduce or eliminate the need for glasses.
- The monofocal lens was the first lens developed for cataract surgery. It is considered the standard lens for cataract surgery. A monofocal lens is a single focus lens. This means it can be adjusted for near, intermediate or far vision. Most people prefer to adjust their monofocal lenses for far vision and use reading glasses for near vision.
- The multifocal lens is designed to provide near, intermediate and far vision in a single implant. It does this through a series of rings tuned for each viewing range. Think of it as a target where each ring represents a different range of vision. Your brain learns which ring to use to focus images. A multifocal lens also reduces or eliminates the need for glasses.
- The toric lens is a type of monofocal lens that also corrects astigmatism. Astigmatism is caused by abnormal curvature of the cornea. It can cause two focal points to fall into two different places, causing both near and far objects to appear blurry. As with other monofocal lenses, you may need reading glasses to focus your near vision.
Other procedures for cataract
In addition to cataract surgery, your doctor may perform one or more of the following:
- Laser-assisted corneal reshaping (LASIK) is a minor but technical surgical procedure used to correct certain types of blurred vision, including farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism. Your doctor uses a laser to change the shape of your cornea, provide clearer vision, and remove very thin layers.
- Limbal relaxant incisions are a series of small incisions that help correct astigmatism. This process allows your cornea to take a more rounded and symmetrical shape.
Why is cataract surgery done?
Your doctor may recommend cataract surgery to treat advanced cataracts that obstruct your vision. Cataracts are usually not treated until they begin to noticeably affect your vision. Some minor cataract symptoms, including blurred vision or minor changes in visual acuity, can be improved with nonsurgical approaches. These include improved lighting or changes to eyeglass prescriptions. If both of your eyes require cataract surgery, it’s usually done separately, at least four to eight weeks apart.
In most cases, cataract formation occurs as a result of aging. However, it can also be triggered by eye injury, eye surgery, radiation exposure, or excessive sun exposure. Cataract can also be a birth defect.
Surgery is not the only treatment for cataracts. Your doctor may consider cataract surgery for you only if nonsurgical options have not been effective. It is recommended that you ask your doctor about all your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on cataract surgery.
Who does cataract surgery?
An ophthalmologist will perform your cataract surgery. An ophthalmologist is a physician with special training in eye diseases, eye problems, and eye surgery.
How does cataract surgery age?
All cataract surgeries involve an incision on the side of your cornea. The cornea is the transparent dome that covers the front of your eye. However, there are different approaches to surgery that your doctor may choose. Ophthalmologists may perform cataract surgery under anesthesia or as an outpatient.
Surgical approaches to cataract surgery
Small-incision cataract surgery, also known as phacoemulsification or phaco, is the most common form of cataract surgery. A small incision and a small ultrasound probe are used near your cornea to soften and break up your lens. Your doctor removes your lens by suctioning through a small incision. The intraocular lens implant is placed through the same small incision.
Extracapsular cataract surgery uses a slightly longer incision on the side of your cornea. Your doctor removes your lens in one piece and places your intraocular lens implant through this incision.
Your doctor may or may not use stitches or stitches to close the incision. If your doctor uses stitches, they may need to be removed at a future visit.
Your doctor will determine which surgery is best for you and how long you should stay in the hospital or surgical center based on your diagnosis, age, medical history, general health, and possibly personal preferences. It is recommended that you learn about the different cataract surgery procedures and ask why your doctor would use a particular type of procedure for you.
Types of anesthesia that can be used
Your doctor will perform cataract surgery using local or general anesthesia.
- General anesthesia is a combination of intravenous drugs and gases that puts you into a deep sleep. In general anesthesia, you will not feel any pain about the procedure.
- Local anesthesia involves injecting eye drops to numb the eye or injecting an anesthetic around the nerves in your eye so you don’t feel anything. You will likely also be given sedation to keep you relaxed and comfortable.
Cataract surgery day
On the day of your surgery, you can generally expect:
- Before the operation, a nurse will give you the necessary information. The nurse will conduct an examination and make sure that all necessary tests are done. The nurse can also answer questions and will make sure you understand and sign the surgical consent.
- You will remove all clothing and jewelry and put on a hospital gown. It’s a good idea to leave all jewelry and valuables at home or with a family member. Your care team will give you blankets for warmth.
- A surgical team member will initiate an anesthetic.
- During the surgery, the surgical team will monitor your vital signs and other critical body functions. This will happen throughout the procedure and throughout your recovery until you wake up, breathe effectively, and your vital signs are stable.
Cataract surgery risks
As with all surgeries, cataract surgery carries risks and potential complications. In some cases, complications can become serious and life-threatening. Complications can develop during surgery or recovery.
General risks of the surgery
General risks of surgical procedures include:
- Anesthesia reaction such as allergic reaction and breathing problems
Possible complications of the surgery
Complications of cataract surgery are rare, but can be serious. Potential complications include:
- bleeding inside the eye
- Capsular contraction, which occurs when the tissue supporting your artificial lens is injured and contracts during healing
- Dislocated or decentralized intraocular lens
- glaucoma, or increased pressure inside your eye
- inflammation or swelling
- Night vision problems, such as seeing glare, halos, or bursts of stars around lights at night
- Posterior capsular tear, or a thin tear that will hold your natural lens and hold your artificial lens
- Retinal tear or detachment, a medical emergency
- Secondary cataracts, sometimes called posterior capsule opacification, that occur when the capsule or tissue supporting your intraocular lens becomes cloudy
Reducing the risk of complications
You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following the treatment plan and following your doctor’s recommendations, such as:
- Fulfilling activity, diet, and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery
- Report any concerns you have such as bleeding, fever, increased pain, redness, swelling or discharge to your doctor immediately.
- taking your medications exactly as directed
- Let your doctor know if you have any allergies
Preparing for cataract surgery
Remember that you are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can improve your comfort and outcome. Here’s how you can prepare for cataract surgery:
- Answering all questions about your medical history and medications you take: This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It’s a good idea to always carry an up-to-date list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies with you.
- Arranging to go home after cataract surgery: You will not be allowed to drive yourself home, so you must arrange for a companion.
- Getting pre-operative tests as directed: Pre-operative tests may include a complete eye exam, an ultrasound exam called an A-scan, keratometry (which measures the curve of your cornea), blood tests, and other tests as needed.
- Losing weight before surgery with a healthy diet and exercise plan: This can significantly improve the outcome of the surgery.
- Not eating or drinking just before the surgery as instructed: If you are under general anesthesia, your surgery may be canceled if you eat or drink too soon, as this can cause various problems.
- Quitting smoking as soon as possible: Even quitting for just a few days can be beneficial and aid the healing process.
- Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed: Your doctor may ask you not to take certain medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
Questions to ask your doctor
Facing surgery can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You can think of other questions after your appointment. Do not hesitate to consult your doctor with any concerns and questions before surgery and between appointments.
It’s also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your pre-operative appointments. Possible questions may include:
- Why do I need cataract surgery? Are there other options for treating my condition?
- What type of cataract surgery procedure will I need?
- How long will the surgery take? When can I go home?
- What restrictions will I have after the surgery? When can I return to work and other activities?
- What kind of help will I need at home?
- What medications will I need before and after the surgery?
- How will you manage my pain?
- Will a doctor provide my pre- and post-operative care? Who is this doctor?
- How much vision improvement can I expect? Will I still need glasses or contact lenses after surgery to completely correct my vision, or will I need another surgery?
- When and how should I contact you?
After cataract surgery
Knowing what to expect can help you make your recovery path as smooth as possible after cataract surgery.
How long does it take to fix?
Cataract surgery does not usually require an overnight hospital stay. Recovery after surgery is a gradual process. Recovery time will vary depending on the particular procedure, type of anesthesia, your general health, age, and other factors. Your doctor may want you to wear an eye patch or eye shield until your follow-up appointment the next day.
He may also ask you to wear an eye patch while you sleep for a few days after the surgery. The eye patch protects your eyes from injury during the healing process. Your doctor will also prescribe eye drops to aid the healing process. Most people can return to their daily activities within a few weeks. Full recovery takes 8 to 10 weeks.
Will I feel pain?
Pain control is important for a smooth recovery. Although there is usually minimal pain in cataract surgery, you may experience discomfort, tenderness or itching in your eye after surgery. It is recommended that you contact your doctor if you have pain despite following your treatment plan, as this can be a sign of complications.
When should I go to the doctor?
It is important to follow up with your follow-up appointments after cataract surgery. You can talk to your doctor for questions and concerns between appointments. In the following cases, it is recommended to seek medical help immediately:
- Breathing problems such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing when breathing
- Changes such as fainting, dizziness, unresponsiveness, or confusion
- Inability to urinate, pass gas, or defecate
- Unexpected discharge, pus, redness, or swelling in your eye
Does cataract surgery affect daily life?
Cataract surgery can improve your eye health or significantly reduce your symptoms. So you can lead an active, normal life. For example, cataract surgery can restore your vision and help you continue with your daily activities. However, it may take time for your vision to fully recover and you may still need to wear glasses.
After recovery from cataract surgery is complete, most people experience:
- brighter colors
- clearer images
- Freedom to return to or start activities such as sports, painting, needlework, sewing, reading and writing
- More self confidence
- Better vehicle handling
cataract surgery price
Public hospitals and some contracted hospitals perform cataract surgery free of charge for insured people. There is no clear price in private hospitals. Because the cost depends on many things about the surgery and the general condition of the person. However, we can say that the price of cataract surgery in 2021 varies between 2,500 Turkish liras and 15,000 Turkish liras.