When you develop a cataract, the lens of your eye (which is normally clear) becomes cloudy. Cataracts can develop slowly, but eventually, the cloudiness interferes with your ability to see clearly. According to the National Eye Institute, cataracts are very common in older adults. The risk of developing a cataract increases especially after age 40.
At Wolchok Eye Associates, PA, our team of dedicated providers knows that advanced cataracts can limit your ability to perform daily tasks like read a book or drive to the grocery store. That’s why we suggest that you visit us if you ever have concerns about your vision. Cataract surgery can restore your vision and enable you to participate in your favorite hobbies again.
If you’re considering cataract surgery, this is what you can expect before, during, and after your surgery:
Cataracts 101: what are they and how are they treated?
Cataracts are a common eye condition that affects 24.4 million Americans, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. You may be diagnosed with a cataract if the lens on your eye becomes blurry. Aging, eye injuries, lifestyle factors (such as smoking), and underlying health conditions (such as diabetes) can also increase your risk of developing a cataract.
You might suspect that you have a cataract if you spot the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Difficulty driving at night due to poor night vision
- Lights (and headlights at night) that create glares
- Colors that seem muted or faded
Note that you can develop a cataract in one eye or both eyes. At first, the start of a cataract might not impact your quality of life, but, over time, it can affect your ability to see clearly. The good news is that cataracts can be treated surgically.
Surgery is the only way to treat a cloudy lens, and the surgery has a high success rate.
What to expect before surgery
Before surgery, your provider at Wolchok Eye Associates will help you determine when is the right time for surgery. Remember, you don’t necessarily need surgery when you are first diagnosed. Instead, it’s a good idea to take a look at the severity of your symptoms. You might ask yourself:
- Do my cataracts prevent me from enjoying my favorite hobbies?
- Is it hard to read?
- Do bright lights create glares that make it harder to see?
- Is my vision getting worse?
- Can I still drive safely?
- Do I have other eye conditions that need to be treated too?
If surgery is right for you, you’ll need to be cleared for surgery. This is true no matter what type of surgery you need. Either Dr. Stephen or Dr. Eugene will provide you with your specific preop instructions. For example, you may be asked to stop food/water intake at midnight before your procedure. In general, you should be in good health prior to surgery, so you’ll also be asked to let us know if you feel ill before your surgery.
You’ll also receive an ultrasound of your eye. This helps prepare the right intraocular lens (IOL) for your surgery.
What to expect during surgery
There are two types of cataract surgery: traditional and laser-assisted. At Wolchok Eye Associates, we utilize the latter method -- femtosecond laser removal -- when it comes to cataract surgery.
During your surgery, ultrasound imaging will guide the laser, but it’s the laser (instead of a scalpel) that makes the incision. Once your cloudy lens is removed, you’ll receive an artificial lens (an intraocular lens or IOL). There are a variety of different types of IOL, but regardless of which one you need, they are clear and restore clear vision.
The combination of ultrasound imaging and laser improves the accuracy and efficiency of your procedure. It can be nerve-racking to think about eye surgery, but keep in mind that laser-assisted surgeries require no blades.
What to expect after surgery
After your surgery, you’ll enter into a recovery period. As your eye heals, your vision should improve gradually, but it’s normal for vision to be blurry for a few days. You might notice a little tenderness or even itching throughout the healing process. Be sure to avoid rubbing or itching your eyes.
You may be asked to wear an eye patch temporarily, and you can expect a few follow-up appointments so we can ensure your eye is healing.
After surgery, you can promote healing by keeping these tips in mind:
- Take all medications (including eye drops) as directed
- Follow all post-op instructions as carefully as possible
- Eat nutritious meals
In terms of vision restoration, what can you expect? According to the experts at Mayo Clinic, cataract surgery is relatively low risk and the side effects are uncommon. Underlying eye conditions (such as macular degeneration) are a common reason why cataract surgery isn’t as effective. This is a good example of the importance of regular eye exams and treating eye conditions as soon as possible.
Are you suffering from cataracts?
Don’t let the thought of surgery keep you from getting the care you need. We offer state-of-the-art technologies known for their effectiveness.
To learn more about cataract surgery, call our Jacksonville, Florida office at 904-739-0606. You can also request an appointment online.