What is a Cataract?
With the formation of a cataract, activities like reading, bowling, or driving can be difficult. Fortunately, vision can be restored quickly, allowing the patient to return home within a few hours. With new advances in cataract surgery, vision improvement begins almost immediately, and an eye patch isn't even needed. So What is a Cataract? A Cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye. (See above animation) Normally, light passes through the clear lens and is focused on the Retina. However, the natural aging process can cause the lens to become cloudy. The Cataract or cloudy lens blocks the passage of light through the eye and causes distorted or blurred vision, glare, or difficulty seeing in poor lighting conditions. Cataract surgery is the most common operation in the world. In the United States, more than 2.7 million procedures are performed annually. (National Institutes of Health) There are 20.5 million cases of early cataracts among Americans aged 40 and older, and 50 percent of people older than 65 have developed significant cataracts. (National Institutes of Health)
The Cataract Procedure
Cataract surgery is performed on an out-patient basis. You will not need to be hospitalized or put to sleep for your doctor to perform your surgery. The procedure normally takes less than 30 minutes and you can return home shortly after your procedure. Most people will enjoy improved vision by the day after surgery or within a few days following the procedure. Your doctor will first administer a light sedative which will relax your nerves and keep you comfortable during the procedure. Anesthetic eye drops will be used to completely numb the eye. Your doctor will use the latest technology for cataract removal. The entire procedure is typically performed through an incision that is smaller than 1/8 of an inch and does not require stitches to heal once the cataract is removed, an intra-ocular lens (IOL) is placed where the cataract lens was removed, to restore your sight. Most patients will not require an eye patch and will not have significant discomfort. Most patients can return to their normal daily routines, including reading, driving, and exercise soon after surgery.