I had cataract surgery, what now?
So you had the cataract, hardening and clouding of the lens, removed and the ophthalmologist replaced your old and hardened lens with a brand-spanking-new artificial lens. (To refresh your memory on what a cataract is – please read relevant post: What is a cataract?)
Usually the procedure is done one eye at a time and you are in the theatre under 30 minutes if there is no complications. The ophthalmologist will patch the operated eye after surgery and will see you the next day to assess the position of the intraocular lens (IOL). At this visit the ophthalmologist will prescribe eye drops that will assist in the healing proses and prevent secondary infections – USE AS PRESCRIBED!
It is quite normal to expect the eye to be red and sensitive to light the first few days. Functional vision usually returns within 24 hours and steadily improves over the first week or two. Complications during cataract surgery is rare, but can occur especially if the surgery is not done in time and the cataract is fully mature, completely dense and hard.
During the healing phase following your cataract surgery, protection of the eye is very important. Keep in mind that the eye is more vulnerable, due to the surgery, to injury, infection and sunlight. For this reason don’t rub or press on your eye. Light exercise is permitted, but bending forward or lifting objects increase unwanted pressure in the eye. Avoid tap water and shampoo to enter eye. It goes without saying that eye hygiene is crucial. Polarized sunglasses helps to protect the eye against UV light and glare.
Because there is little or no pain after the surgery, we can’t see the wound and there is no bandages or patches, patients tend to forget that this is still surgery and this is still a wound that needs time to heal. After surgery visits to the ophthalmologist is usually Day 1 (the very next day after surgery), one month after the surgery and then again in a year if the doctor is satisfied with the healing process.
Should you experience any of the following symptoms following surgery, you should contact your ophthalmologist immediately: pain, decreased vision, swollen eyelids or flashes of light. We recommend that our patients wait between 6 and 8 weeks before we do a full eye examination to determine whether you need new spectacles and what the correct prescription should be. During the healing process, inflammation and swelling need to subside. This swelling can influence the “power” of the eye, thus causing an inaccurate reading in the eye test that will result in wrong prescription glasses.
Most people do still need to wear spectacles after cataract surgery. While in most cases the goal of the surgery is to fully correct the patient’s distance vision, the standard IOL implanted to replace the original lens in unable to focus on near vision. In this case the patient will still need reading glasses. Some ophthalmologist do “monovision” where they give the patient one eye good distance vision and the other good near vision which leads to a kind of compromised vision that works well for every day, but in this instance the patient will need both distance and near spectacle correction for driving (especially at night or long distances) and for reading (or any concentration work up-close). Depending on the healing process and the surgical outcome, the vision might not be exactly what the patient and the ophthalmologist initially expected.
There are more expensive IOL devices available that might assist with both distance and near vision, but the technology has not been entirely perfected yet. Researchers are actively exploring this idea though, so expect future breakthroughs.
Good news – cataracts cannot grow back after it has been surgically removed, and remembering that, it is not a film that grows but a hardened lens that has been replaced, the new artificial lens cannot harden and become cloudy. Sometimes the capsule, that the original lens was in, which is left behind in the eye with cataract surgery, may become cloudy and cause additional reduced vision, but this will not lead to another surgery, it only takes a quick laser procedure to break down the cloudy capsule.
Show your eyes some EyeLove and we will see you in 6-8weeks.