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What you should know about cataract surgery

Cataract surgery—which involves removing the eye's clouded lens and replacing it with a clear synthetic version—once required several days in the hospital and a long recovery period. Today it is performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis, and people are back to their normal lives within days. For people with cataracts, the decision whether to have surgery may be easy to make. However, two additional decisions might be more difficult: when to have surgery and what type of lens implant to get.

Why you may need cataract surgery

To a great extent, cataracts are a normal consequence of aging. Cataract formation is usually a gradual process that plays out over years. The lenses of our eyes become less transparent, less resilient, and often thicker. By age 80, half of us will have cataracts.

Cataracts can creep up on you. It may be hard to tease out the effects of a developing cataract from other age-related vision changes. In the early stages you may become more nearsighted, a problem that can be corrected with glasses. As the cataract progresses, your night vision may worsen, and colors may appear duller.

Any vision changes warrant an eye exam. However, because cataract-associated changes can be subtle, it's better not to wait until your sight is noticeably affected. Comprehensive eye exams, which can detect not just cataracts but also glaucoma and other eye conditions, are recommended every two years for adults ages 40 through 64 and annually for everyone 65 or older.

The doctor will test the sharpness of your vision by having you identify a series of symbols or letters on a chart. He or she may also dilate your pupils with drops to examine the interior of the eye. Using a slit lamp—to illuminate a small area inside the eye at a time—the doctor can see any cataract and assess how extensive the clouded areas are. Additional examinations and tests help rule out other eye disorders, such as glaucoma or retinal degeneration.

What's involved in cataract surgery

Experience and technology have fine-tuned the procedure to replace the eye's lens so that it takes only about 15 minutes to perform. It offers good long-term results, and 98% of all cases done by an experienced surgeon are successful and free of complications.

The recovery period

You'll spend about an hour in the recovery room as the anesthesia wears off. The doctor may place a bandage or clear shield over your eye. You'll need to have someone help you get home.

Once at home, your primary goal will be to keep your eye from getting infected. You'll need to use eye drops several times a day and to keep water out of your eye. You can go about your daily routine as long as you avoid heavy lifting or activities like jogging that can jar the new lens.

It's also fine to read and watch TV by the day after surgery. The first thing you're likely to notice is how vivid colors seem and how much more detail you can see.

Your surgeon will probably ask you to return for a check-up the day after surgery, a week later, and a few weeks after that.

Schedule you appointment today at Beraja Medical Institute and let us help you get the vision you have always wanted.

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