A cataract is a clouding, discoloration and hardening of one’s natural lens that commonly happens as people age. One’s natural lens lets light into the eye and focuses the light onto the retina. It is like a lens on a camera, which lets light in and focuses it.
Cataract surgery involves a small wound in the cornea or the front of the eye; the wound is so small that it self-seals. If one thinks of a cataract like an orange, there is the peel and then there is the inside. A circle is made in the top of the peel and that is removed, the inside is removed and the rest of the peel is kept. This peel is now shaped like a bag with an opening in the top. An artificial lens is folded through the corneal wound at the front of the eye and placed in this bag. The artificial lens stays in forever.
The lens is chosen to give a patient good vision for distance without glasses, however sometimes a small prescription is needed to fine tune the distance vision. All patients will need glasses for reading. In Alberta, the standard lens is fully covered by Alberta Health. This is an excellent lens and can provide great vision.
If you have a lot of astigmatism, a special lens can be used which helps correct this. This premium lens has a charge which the office can go over with patients should they be interested. Please note that glasses can also correct for this astigmatism if patients choose the standard lens.
Other premium lenses can provide some near vision. However, reading glasses can provide this and sometimes will be needed even with this premium lens.
Risks of Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery is the most common of all surgeries performed. It is very safe. However, there is a 1 in a thousand risk of bleeding or infection. Rarely, less than 0.5% of the time an alternate position may need to be used for the lens; this still should provide good vision. Less than 1 in 500 cases an additional surgery may be needed should part of the lens fall to the back of the eye. Dr. Adatia is a retina specialist that also performs this surgery.
It is normal for the eye to feel itchy or scratchy for a few days after surgery. Although the vision can improve in a few days, it takes six weeks for the vision to stabilize. Patients sometimes still need glasses for distance but usually always require glasses for reading. Patients are encouraged to wait six weeks before getting new glasses.