Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cataract Operations – A Routine Surgery by Kathryn Dawson

Cataract operations are extremely common, although if you have to have the surgery you may be somewhat anxious. There is really no need to worry as surgeons perform this sort of operation every day.

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye goes cloudy – like a pane of frosted glass – and vision is impaired a great deal. This can affect people of any age, although it is much more common in people over 60. Cataracts can be caused by age, although if they occur in younger people it could be due to an underlying medical condition such as diabetes.

Cataract surgery involves the removal of this cloudy lens and replacing it with a synthetic clear lens which then helps to greatly improve vision. This is the only effective treatment which provides long term benefits. With the latest advances in technology it is possible for cataract operations to be carried out as soon as the condition begins to impair your ability to carry out everyday tasks.

Prior to the operation being carried out, you will undergo a pre-surgery check to clarify the details of the surgery. This will be done on a separate visit to the hospital. The operation is usually carried out under a local anaesthetic, which means that you will be awake but will feel nothing. There will be somebody with you to explain what is happening and while you may be aware of some movement, you are unlikely to see any real details of the operation. Some people undergo the operation with a general anaesthetic and will be unaware of anything while the surgery is being carried out.

Cataract operations can be carried out leaving little or no visible trace. The specialist performing the surgery makes a small opening in the eye and stitches are often not necessary. There is also no need for you to be concerned about being in an operating theatre for any length of time as most cataract operations last no more than 20 minutes. Following the surgery, you will have to wear a pad or protective shield over the eye to prevent any accidental damage while the eye is recovering.

Following the operation you may find that complete recovery can take a few months. Glasses may still be needed as the synthetic lenses that are used are normally for distance vision, so for reading or using a computer you may still have to use glasses. However, you should be aware that if you had glasses for distance vision then your prescription may have to be changed.

You will need to use eye drops for a few months after cataract operations and for a short while strenuous activity and severe weather conditions should be avoided, in order to allow the eye to adjust and heal.

The popularity of Lasik Laser eye surgery may leave you wondering if this would be an option, but you should be aware that it is not suitable for cataracts. However, if following surgery you suffer a thickening of the lens casing, laser surgery can then be used as an effective treatment.

If you are concerned that you may have cataracts then you should consult a medical professional, but there are a number of symptoms that you can look out for. The most common symptom is blurred vision, where everything you see appears hazy. You may also find that you are dazzled by bright lights, so may find it difficult to be out in the sunlight. Your ability to distinguish colours may also be affected. There are other conditions which can cause similar symptoms, such as dry and wet macular degeneration, and your optician will be able to rule out other possible causes.