Seeing Clearly After Cataracts: Treatment and Aftercare

May 7th 2016

Vision loss caused by cataracts can make it difficult to live normally, but there are treatment options. Talk to your doctor about the best one for your situation.

Mild Cataracts

Small cataracts often have little impact on your vision, so management is usually the best course. Your doctor may recommend management techniques, such as using brighter lighting or magnifying lenses for reading and other detail work. Anti-glare glasses and sunglasses can help with some symptoms, as can changing your glasses prescription.

Cataract Surgery

If your cataracts worsen to the point they affect your ability to live your life normally, you may need more treatment. Surgery is the only way to effectively treat more severe cataracts, and it is a common and low-risk procedure.

Cataract surgery is usually an outpatient procedure. The surgeon dilates your eyes and administers a local anesthetic. Most patients also take a sedative, but general anesthesia is rare. The doctor then makes a small incision into your lens using a scalpel or laser and removes the damaged lens, replacing it with an artificial one. The actual procedure generally takes less than an hour.

Recovery

You may have to wear a protective eye patch or shield to protect your eye for a few days after surgery. You may also experience some pain or itching for a few days, but you must not rub your eye. Most patients go home with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops to help the eye heal.

Although your vision should begin to return within a few days, you may need to rest for about a week after surgery to avoid accidentally opening the incision. Most patients heal fully within about eight weeks. While you may still need prescription glasses, your vision should significantly improve.

Conclusion

Cataracts are a common vision problem, eventually affecting up to half of all Americans. They typically occur due to the normal aging process. The lens of the eye clouds over, which leads to blurry vision. The effects can range from barely noticeable to causing near blindness, so getting the right treatment is important.

Sources

NEI.NIH.gov "Facts about cataract" https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts
MayoClinic.org "Cataract surgery: What you can expect" http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cataract-surgery/basics/what-you-can-expect/prc-20012917
VisionAware.org "How long is the recovery time after cataract surgery?" http://www.visionaware.org/info/your-eye-condition/cataracts/recovery-time-after-cataract-surgery/125

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