A clouding in the crystalline lens of the eye, a cataract is only treatable through surgery. Lasers and eye drops cannot remove cataracts because they are not a film over the lens. The surgery is considered the one of the safest procedures in medicine. It involves removing the cloudy lens, and then replacing it with a synthetic IOL (Intraocular Lens).
Yielding excellent visual results in most, nearly 3 million Americans have this procedure performed every year. Though the surgery is usually done one eye at a time, it is an outpatient procedure. This means that you will not be required to stay in a hospital or clinic overnight. Because it is done one eye at a time, you will find yourself visiting the operating room two separate times.
Before the Operation
Before you are set up with an operation, you will have to undergo an extensive pre-op examination with Dr. Sadiqa Stelzner or Dr. Brenda Nuyen. This examination is to gather your optical information, medical history, and to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the operation. After making the decision to go through with the procedure, you will be met by a surgical coordinator who can finish answering remaining questions and walk you through logistics surrounding your operation.
Prior to the surgery, antibiotic and anesthetic eye drops will be used as well as your pupils dilated. A tool called a lid speculum is used to prop open the eye, then an incision is made where the cornea meets the white exterior of the eye (Sclera). Using this incision, an injection of viscoelastic, jelly-like substance is made. This will stabilize the eye during the procedure’s duration. Another incision is made to grant access to the capsular bag, which the cataracts will be found at. Capsulorhexis is the process that is performed next. It is where the bag is opened up, either manually or by laser. Then with the help of ultrasonic waves, the cataracts are broken up by utilizing a device called a phacoemulsifier. Once the pieces are vacuumed up, the surgeon will polish the bad and add more viscoelastic. Then an applicator is used to insert an artificial IOL.After orientation of the lens to maximize vision, the viscoelastic is vacuumed out of the eye.
After the Operation
With the recovery time from the surgery being very quick, many patients show improving results, sometimes as soon as 24 hours. There is some normal after effects of the surgery, such as itching and mild discomfort. There is sometimes a discharge of fluid, and you may be light sensitive for a while. After about two days, your discomfort should have vanished, but complete visual recovery differs from patient to patient. It is vital to discuss your recovery with Dr. Stelzner or Dr. Nuyen, as every person heals differently. If you have cataracts in both eyes, you will have both surgeries scheduled within a week or two apart. Most patients find themselves returning to their normal lives within just a couple of days after the surgery.