Cataract surgery has both grown and changed in the last 15 years, and in recent years cataract laser surgery has become more popular. As baby boomers enter their 60s and 70s, there has been an exponential increase in the number of cataract surgeries performed, but people of all ages can have this procedure performed if they have a cataract. Here is a short list of common questions about this procedure.
How Does Laser Surgery Differ from Traditional Cataract Surgery?
Traditional cataract surgery involves incisions to the cornea of the eye, using a handheld blade. The surgeon then uses a special microsurgical instrument to create an opening from which to remove the cataract, or cloudy lens. To remove the actual cataract, the surgeon uses a probe, which emits ultrasonic waves to break up the cataract. The probe is then used to remove the pieces.
With laser cataract surgery, the incisions are made with a laser, which creates a more exact opening. In addition, the laser is used to make the brittle cataract softer and easier to remove. Following the laser steps, the cataract is removed in the same way as traditional surgery, and an intraocular lens is put into place.
Is Cataract Laser Surgery Painful?
Although patients are usually awake during the surgery, they typically receive an oral sedative to ensure they are fully at ease, relaxed, and feeling no discomfort. You will also receive an intravenous (IV) medication to help you feel calm and less anxious through the surgery. Most people report little to no discomfort or pain during the process.
How Long Does Cataract Surgery Take?
Cataract surgery is done as an outpatient procedure. It does not include a hospital stay. The actual cataract laser surgery takes about 10 minutes, but then you spend about 30 minutes resting to let the effects of anesthesia wear off. After that, you are released to go home and rest for the remainder of the day.
What to Expect During Cataract Surgery?
You can choose to be awake and alert for the procedure or opt for conscious sedation. With conscious sedation, you are awake but feel completely relaxed and will be unaware of the procedure. The surgeon numbs your eye and the surrounding area. To prepare, read the information provided on our website on what to expect during cataract surgery.
What Should I Expect After Surgery?
Immediately following surgery, your eye may be covered with a rigid transparent shield. Most patients undergo dropless cataract surgery, where anti-inflammatory and antibiotic medications are instilled by the surgeon during the procedure. However, a small percentage of patients are not a candidate for that and will be given a prescription for anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops. If you are given prescriptions to take following your surgery, you should fill these immediately and take as directed.
When you arrive at home, you can still do your normal activities, but its best to take it easy. No lifting over 10 pounds and try not to bend so far that your head is below your waist. Remove the eye-shield only to administer drops.
While you might be able to see clearly within hours of surgery, it is common for normal vision to take a week or two to return. After about a month, your eye should be totally healed and your vision greatly improved and your cataract laser surgery recovery is complete.
You deserve clear vision and healthy eyes. Make an appointment with us today by calling 772-257-8700 or contact us with questions. At New Vision Eye Center, our surgeons perform cataract laser surgery as well as a variety of other procedures.