June is Cataract Awareness Month! Part 2 of this blog with overview what happens in cataract surgery and what your options are.

Please see Part 1 of the cataract blog here.

My eye doctor says I need cataract surgery, what now?
If your optometrist identifies cataracts as the source of your blurry vision, they may discuss referring you to an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) to perform cataract surgery. The thought of having surgery on your eyes can be scary at first. It is natural to feel apprehensive but rest assured that cataract surgery is a very straight forward procedure. In fact, it is one of the most common procedures in all of medicine and one of the most successful.

How does cataract surgery work?
A cataract is when the crystalline lens inside of the eye has become cloudy and interferes with vision. In cataract surgery this natural lens must be removed from the eye, then replaced with an artificial intraocular lens. The primary goal of surgery is to remove the cataract and allow a person to see clearly again. A secondary goal is to carefully choose the lens implant to reduce reliance on glasses, whenever possible. There are different options for lens implants available these days, and the technology has advanced significantly.

What are my options?
The goal when choosing the artificial lens is to reduce your need for eyeglasses when possible. With a standard lens, a person might have good distance vision after the surgery even without glasses but would still require glasses for the computer and reading. There are other high tech lens options available these days that can further reduce your reliance on glasses. For example, there are lenses to correct astigmatism, and multifocal lenses which are designed to reduce your reliance on glasses both for distance and near. Multifocal intraocular lens technology has improved a lot in recent years, and work in a similar way as multifocal contact lenses. Typically they allow for good near vision for most tasks. The most commonly encountered issues with them is glare/halo around light sources (such as when driving at night), and weaker near vision under poor lighting conditions. Surgeons are careful to only recommend these lenses to patients who are good candidates, and they typically give good results. These advanced lens options are not covered through provincial health care. Ultimately the decision on whether to proceed with advanced lens implants will involve a discussion between the patient and the surgeon, so make sure you ask any questions you may have so that you are comfortable with your choice.

What happens after surgery?
Patients who have cataract surgery will typically leave the hospital the same day. Post operative instructions can vary depending on the surgeon, but typically you can expect to use eyedrop medications afterwards for a month. You will be seen for post operative visits by either the ophthalmologist or an optometrist. Often times both eyes will be done a couple of weeks apart but this could also vary depending on your situation. You will be provided with specific instructions by the surgeon. It is important to follow these instructions carefully and attend all post operative appointments. Older glasses from before the surgery usually won’t work after the surgery, so they need to be changed. This is typically done around 6 weeks after the surgery. After the post-operative visits are all done, make sure you continue to see your optometrist for regular comprehensive eye care!

How can cataracts be avoided in the first place?
Remember, risk factors for cataract formations including UV light (from the sun), trauma, smoking, diabetes, and others. Make sure you wear sunglasses when outdoors. There are also contact lenses available these days that block UV light as well (though they don’t protect the whites of the eye).

Early detection and prevention is always best! Book a visit with us today for a comprehensive eye exam.

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