A lot of people over the age of 50 end up with cataracts, which means the lens inside their eye is clouded. Rather than getting glasses or contacts, they need to have cataract surgery. Cataracts are a part of aging, and almost seventy percent of Americans 80+ has had cataracts. In the future, the number of people with cataracts will most likely increase. Every year, over 3 million people have this surgery.
During the surgery, the lens is taken out and an artificial lens is put into its place. An ultrasound device is used to break up the clouded lens, so it can be removed with suction. This procedure is known as phacoemulsification. Also known as phacoemulsification, smaller incisions are used that result in faster healing. It reduces the risk of complications after the surgery. Once the clouded lens is completely gone, the new lens is put into place. This surgery doesn’t involve staying in the hospital overnight.
Recently, femtosecond lasers were approved to be used during surgeries. They have been approved to create the incisions to access the lens. They are approved to break the cataract instead of using phacoemulsification. This surgery is a lot more expensive due to the surgeon needing to purchase the laser. The lasers have better accuracy, but don’t necessarily have better outcomes.
Before the surgery, your eye doctor will do an eye exam to check whether the surgery is needed, and the risks of not having it. They will perform a refraction to check how nearsighted and farsighted you are. They also measure the curvature and the length of your eye. This is to help best improve your vision after surgery. A monofocal lens can be put in and might require glasses after the surgery.
Not everyone who has a cataract needs to have surgery for it. While glasses don’t work as a solution for elderly people, they can for younger people. There might not be any noticeable changes in vision at first, but that can change over time. Your vision may be dim, blurred or doubled. Your night vision can be affected, your eyes can become sensitive to light. Any or all of these symptoms can warrant having surgery. Even without any of these symptoms, there’s a chance you’ll need to have the surgery.
Although side effects from this surgery are rare, you can experience bleeding, feeling pressure in your eye and fluid building up in your eye. Your eye can be itchy or sore and you may have trouble seeing in bright light. You won’t be allowed to drive by yourself or do any heavy labor. You’ll most likely be wearing an eye shield that will protect your eye while it heals. It will take eight weeks for your eye to heal. If your vision starts to look cloudy again, it’s because the lens capsule is thickening up. A surgeon will open it up with a laser to let light get to the artificial lens.