Close to 20% of adults over 40 have a cataract in at least one eye; by the time people reach 75, 70% have cataracts. The good news: Cataract surgery can help and is one of the safest procedures.
What are cataracts?
Simply put, a cataract is the clouding of a lens in the eye. They occur naturally ; although healthier living may help delay onset and progression, almost everyone will develop them. Most cataracts take time to progress and, in the beginning, eyeglasses and better lighting might help. But once they begin interfering with daily activities – like driving, reading, or seeing a loved one’s face – then it may be time for cataract surgery.
What happens during cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery can be performed as outpatient or in-hospital care. During the procedure, the eye is numbed and a relaxant may be administered, but the person stays awake. The individual can see light and movement but not what is happening.
Looking through a special microscope, the doctor makes tiny cuts with a laser or blade on the outer edge of the cornea. Then, the doctor breaks up the cataract with a small instrument, removes it, and replaces it with a new lens. A shield is placed over the eye to protect it while healing; the incisions will close by themselves. Before going home, the patient usually waits in a recovery area for up to 30 minutes.
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is one of the most common and effective operations in the United States. Like all surgeries, there are some risks associated with the procedure, which may include:
- Infections, including swelling and bleeding.
- Double vision or loss of vision.
- Detachment of the retinal.
- Pressure change in the eye.
- Secondary cataracts.
For 90% of people, cataract surgery improves vision and can even make colors brighter. Since June is Cataracts Awareness Month, plan a visit to your eye doctor to ensure that you can see all the beauty life has to offer.