Your eye has a natural lens that focuses light into an image on the retina, which converts this image into a nerve signal that is transmitted to the brain. The lens is normally clear at birth, but with time grows larger in a manner similar to an onion, layer by layer. Eventually, the lens becomes thicker, more opaque, discolored, and changes from clear to yellow or white or even dark brown. These changes block light from passing through in a normal manner, decreasing vision. These changes to the lens are referred to as a cataract. When a cataract starts to interfere with vision, it is time to consider cataract surgery.
The ophthalmologists at Walla Walla Eye Center regularly perform cataract microsurgery here locally. Contact us today to set up your appointment.
Understanding Cataract Surgery
Understanding Intraocular Lens Options with Cataract Surgery (IOL)
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a thickening and clouding of the natural lens of the eye. It is generally slowly progressive in nature, and may be present for years before significantly disrupting vision. Cataracts can not only blur or dim vision, but may also make you more sensitive to glare and the headlights of oncoming cars, among other things.
How long is the surgery?
The surgery itself is very brief, although you should plan to be at the facility for several hours total.
Why will I be at the facility so long?
You will check in and be taken to the preoperative area where nurses will review your medical history and the anesthesiologist will begin to prepare you and your eye for the surgery. Prior to surgery, the eye will need to be dilated and several people will verify what eye is going to be worked on.
What must I do before my cataract surgery?
As we get closer to your surgical date, we will review all the steps necessary prior to surgery. We will provide it to you in writing as well, so you will have something to refer to.
Will my activities be limited?
Only the more strenuous activities will be limited and only for a short period of time. Most day to day activities are okay from that same day, but ask your surgeon if you have any questions about what is acceptable. You will also be provided with information about this as part of the documents outlining what to expect and do.
I have never used eye drops before. What if I miss my eye?
That is a common concern. The best way to instill drops is to recline, putting your head back (perhaps even lying on pillows). Hold the bottle between your thumb and index finger, bracing your thumb on your nose. Look at the ceiling and pull down the center of the lower lid, making a pocket. Squeeze the bottle until one drop enters the eye. It may help to keep the bottles in the refrigerator because when you feel the cold temperature contact your eye, you will know the drop is in. If you prefer, your drug store may sell devices to help you direct the drops into the eye, or another person may assist in putting them in for you.
When can I drive after cataract surgery?
When you feel up to it and your vision is adequate to drive safely, but not before 24 hours have passed at the earliest. If glasses are needed for distant vision, you will need to wait for these.
Can I eat the day of surgery?
We must follow the guidelines determined by the surgical facility.
Will I be asleep during surgery?
Some people request this, and we can accommodate your preference. Generally speaking, most people do great with just a small amount of medication to relax for the surgery.
Why do I need a physical exam and testing?
This is for your safety, and we must follow the guidelines determined by the surgical facility. Because this is a surgical procedure, we need to be assured that you are in adequate health to safely undergo the operation.
Will the doctor perform surgery on both eyes at the same time?
No. We only operate on one eye at a time.
Will I need glasses after the surgery?
Most patients opt for a pair of glasses after surgery, but these are usually quite weak. We will explain your options to you before selecting a customized plan to match your preferences.
What about my current glasses?
They will typically not work well following surgery. However, if you will be having the second eye done in the near future, and you feel awkward using one eye to see, you can substitute a clear lens (no prescription) for the first surgical eye’s lens until both are updated.
How long do I have to wear the shield/patch?
Usually, just part of the first day, or perhaps overnight. Your surgeon will provide instruction for this.
Will I have a 20/20 result?
No doctor will guarantee this. Much of the final outcome is determined by many other eye conditions you may have, but the vast majority of patients who have cataracts removed note substantially improved vision.