Most of us will eventually develop age-related cataracts, typically sometime after age 50. Cataracts usually develop quite slowly and may not cause any visual problems for some time (maybe even years!). But eventually, symptoms like cloudy or blurry vision or difficulty driving at night may begin to affect everyday life, and when that happens, it may be time to consider cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery involves removing the natural lens of the eye that is clouded by a cataract and replacing it with an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens, or IOL.
If you’re considering cataract surgery, it may be helpful to understand how to prepare for the procedure and to better understand the choices that are available to you.
It’s time for cataract surgery
A cataract diagnosis, made by a qualified eye doctor during a comprehensive eye evaluation, does not mean that surgery is imminent. In fact, many people do quite well with a change in eyeglass prescriptions for several years. But when your quality of life begins to suffer, most doctors will recommend cataract surgery.
When this happens, you will likely meet with a patient care counselor who will discuss with you what to expect before, during, and after cataract surgery. This is an excellent time to have your questions answered. Being prepared ahead of time will help ensure that you don’t walk away with any unresolved concerns or doubts.
The weeks leading up to surgery
Sometime in the weeks prior to surgery you will meet with your doctor who will perform some tests to help determine specifically which lens to implant for the best results.
This is also the time when you will make an appointment for the procedure. You will not be able to drive yourself to and from cataract surgery, so you will need to arrange for rides with a friend or family member. Having this person identified beforehand and understanding his/her scheduling restrictions may help you when it comes to setting a surgery date. Also, talk to your doctor about how long you will be restricted from driving to determine if you will need a ride to follow-up appointments as well. While most people can resume many normal activities within a few days of surgery, if you or your loved one lives alone, you may also want to arrange for help with household chores and meals after surgery.
If you find yourself agitated or anxious about your upcoming cataract surgery, this would be the perfect time to talk to your doctor about your unease. Your doctor will walk you through the procedure step-by-step so that you know exactly what to expect. Sometimes that’s all you need to feel comfortable. Most eye doctors will also provide you with a mild sedative prior to the procedure to help you relax and keep you calm.
The day before surgery
You may have eye drops and/or medications to take the evening before surgery. Be sure to follow instructions precisely. Make sure your doctor knows about any medications you take regularly because it is possible that some of them may need to be taken differently prior to cataract surgery.
Most eye doctors will instruct you to not eat or drink past midnight and also to abstain from alcoholic beverages the day before surgery.
The day of surgery
On the morning of cataract surgery, you won’t be able to eat or drink. Most doctors will ask you to not wear any make up, cosmetics or perfume/cologne on the day of surgery. It is advisable to dress comfortably.
Arriving early for your appointment will give you time for any last-minute paperwork. You will be given specific instructions for recovery and arriving early will give you time to ask questions and make sure you fully understand them.
Be sure to confirm your ride home. In most cases you will be in and out of the office in about two hours.
Immediately after surgery
After the procedure itself, which is usually performed on an outpatient basis, you will need to rest in a recovery area for about an hour or until you are less groggy.
On the day of surgery, and for a few days afterwards, your doctor will have you wear an eye patch or protective shield over your eye. This prevents you from rubbing or touching your eye and also provides protection from dust and other particles. You will also be sent home with eye drops and/or other medications to help prevent infection and reduce inflammation. It is important to use them as prescribed for the best possible outcome.
The IC-8 lens advantage
If you are considering cataract surgery, be sure to discuss replacement lens options with your doctor. Learn more about the IC-8 lens. The IC-8 lens offers many advantages over traditional (monofocal) and multifocal IOLs. It provides a natural range of vision from near to far, including mid-range vision needed to read a computer screen. With the IC-8 lens, one can achieve continuous and seamless vision at all distances.