Nearly 25 million Americans aged 40 and older have cataracts, which is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens that dramatically impairs vision. Those numbers grow with age, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology says cataracts affect at least half of Americans aged 75 and up.
Fortunately, cataract surgery is a safe, effective treatment for cataracts that can restore your vision and quality of life. At Advanced Eye Center in Hialeah, Florida, Rodrigo Belalcazar, MD, uses state-of-the-art surgical techniques to remove cataracts and help patients see clearly again.
Here’s why cataracts happen and what you can expect during and after cataract removal surgery.
Your eyes have natural lenses located just behind the colorful irises. These lenses help focus light on the retina at the back of the eye.
Normally, healthy lenses are crystal clear, allowing as much light as possible to enter the eye for crisp vision. Cataracts happen when proteins collect in the lens, clouding it and blocking some of the light before it reaches the retina.
Because they prevent some of the light from entering the eye, cataracts are associated with symptoms like:
- Blurry or dim vision
- Cloudy vision
- Problems seeing at night
- Sensitivity to light
- Seeing halos around lights
- Colors appearing faded
- Increasing need for brighter light for reading and other activities
- Frequent changes in eyewear prescriptions
These symptoms can be very subtle at first, and initially, you may be able to manage them with glasses or a change in your current prescription lenses. Over time, though, symptoms often become a lot more noticeable.
Cataracts can happen in one or both eyes. If you have cataracts in both eyes, surgery is typically performed on one eye at a time.
What to expect from cataract surgery
The goal of cataract surgery is to remove the clouded natural lens and, in most cases, replace it with an artificial lens (also called an intraocular lens). About 4 million people have cataract surgery every year in the United States.
The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis using a local anesthetic to numb your eye. Dr. Belalcazar makes a tiny incision near the edge of your iris. Then, he uses a special laser to break apart the natural lens and remove it before inserting the artificial lens.
After surgery, Dr. Belalcazar places a patch over the eye to protect it. You may need to wear the patch for a few days and nights.
Recovering from cataract surgery
You’ll probably feel some mild discomfort or itching for a few days after your surgery as healing takes place, but it’s important not to rub your eye. Special medicated eye drops will help relieve inflammation and prevent infection.
You’ll come back for an initial checkup a couple days after your surgery, then again at one week and one month to monitor your healing.
Although your vision may be a little blurry at first, your eyesight should start to improve within a few days. Most people heal completely within about eight weeks.
Cataract surgery is a safe, time-tested approach to improving vision that’s been clouded by cataracts. To learn more about cataract treatment, call 305-874-0115 or book an appointment online with Advanced Eye Center today.