Answers by Mitchell Gossman, MD, an ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, located in St. Cloud
What does cataract surgery involve?
First some background. Cataract is a cloudiness of the natural lens within the eye that develops normally with aging. This lens focuses light, so cloudiness in the lens produces blurry vision. If this is interfering with visual activities, you can elect to have surgery to remove the cataract.
Once you decide to have surgery, here’s how it works from your point of view -- An appointment for an examination is obviously required, showing the presence of cataracts, and you consent to have surgery to try to improve your vision. When the cataract is removed, the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear artificial lens. These lens implants come in a wide range of powers, so your eye is measured to determine the correct lens power for your own eye. You select a date for your surgery, and are provided drops to use before and after surgery. You are given instructions on where the surgery will be performed, and when to be there, though the exact time of day is usually not known until 1-2 days prior to that date. The total time at the facility is 2-3 hours, most of which is for preoperative paperwork, dilation, anesthesia and recovery. It is virtually always outpatient surgery, so you go home, and return to the office for a one day post-op exam. Normally it takes about three weeks for your eye to stabilize and to get a new glasses prescription. If you want surgery on the other eye, that can be scheduled at that point. In fact, since the desire to have surgery on the second eye is so common, you may be offered a reserved date for the second eye.
Cataract surgery is painless, and not an unpleasant experience. It is performed with enough sedation to relax you. It is very common to hear from patients that they found it a simple and even fascinating experience.
I have a friend who was disappointed in the result of his surgery, why would this be?
The most common reason for this would be that there’s another eye condition that limits the vision, so you might ask your friend what else is wrong with their eye. Most of the time other conditions can be detected prior to cataract surgery, but sometimes the cataract is so severe it makes a satisfactory examination of the rest of the eye impossible until the cataract is removed. Another reason would be if complications are encountered during or after cataract surgery. Fortunately, complications are uncommon, and most can be managed successfully. If you continue to have problems after cataract surgery, the best thing is to directly ask for the reason, if it’s not already explained.
Find out more
Mitchell Gossman, MD., and Andrea Joplin, MD., are ophthalmologists at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota in St. Cloud, and see patients from all over Central Minnesota and the St. Cloud area. They accept new patients, and appointments may be made at 320-774-3789.
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