Cataract surgery is an operation that is done to remove a cloudy lens in the eye and replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL).

The lens purpose is to refract light rays to form a clear image on the retina. Thus helping you see a precise image. With a clear lens this is possible, however, the cataract exhibits a cloudy lens which makes the image indistinct and hazy.

The only way to remove a cataract is with surgery. Your ophthalmologist will recommend removing a cataract when it inhibits you from daily activities or your lifestyle.

During a cataract surgery, your natural lens that is cloudy will be removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens called an IOL. Your ophthalmologist will discuss an IOL as well as how they work.

What to expect with cataract surgery

Before surgery:

Your eye will be measured to evaluate the power needed for the IOL. Your medical history will be discussed, including your medication and what may or may not be taken before the surgery.

The day of surgery:

Your ophthalmologist may ask you not to eat any solid food at least 6 hours before your surgery.

Cataract surgery is performed in a hospital. The process will happen as follows:

  • Eye drops or an injection around the eye will be used to numb your eye. Sometimes medication is also given to help relax you before the surgery.
  • You will be awake during surgery. Thus you will see light and movement but you will not see what the ophthalmologist is doing during the surgery.
  • The ophthalmologist will make tiny incisions at the edge of your cornea (which is the clear part which is on the front part of the eye). The incisions will be made use to break up the lens that is cloudy and remove this. After this the new IOL will be implanted in place.
  • Usually no stitches are needed as the tiny incisions heal on their own. A protective shield will be placed over the operated eye while the healing takes place.
    You will be placed in recovery in the hospital for a short while after which you will be discharged to go home.

Days or weeks after surgery:

  • Eye drops will need to be used after the surgery. It is of utmost importance to make use of the drops in the method prescribed by the ophthalmologist.
  • Avoid soap or water to come directly in the eye.
  • Avoid rubbing or pressing hard on the eye. In the beginning, the aforementioned shield will help with this.
  • The shield will also be used when sleeping as protection.
  • Your ophthalmologist will discuss when you can resume your daily activities after the operation. He or she will explain  when you can safely exercise, drive or do other applicable activities again.

Risks involved with cataract surgery

Cataract surgery, as with any surgery, do have some risks or possible complications that can occur. These include:

  • Eye infection
  • Bleeding in the eye
  • Swelling of the front of the eye.
  • Swelling of the retina
  • Retinal detachment
  • Pain
  • Vision loss
  • Dislocated or out of position IOL.

It is possible for your vision to become hazy or unclear similiar to a cataract after the surgery has taken place. This is a problem that can easily be corrected by your ophthalmologist. He or she will do an in-office procedure by making use a YAG laser to restore your clear vision.

Your ophthalmologist will discuss the risks and benefits of cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery costs

Cataract surgery costs are dependent whether you will be paying privately or claiming it through the medical aid. Furthermore different medical aids pay differing amounts of the surgery.

The cost is also dependent on the type of IOL that will be implanted.

It is best to discuss the cost with your ophthalmology practice as every individual will have different circumstances and different influencing factors.

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