01 Apr Cataract Removal Surgery
Cataract removal surgery involves removing the cloudy lens from inside your eye and then implanting a replacement lens to restore clear vision.
The natural lens inside your eye helps focus light. The lens is made of proteins that are arranged in a regular column so light can pass through the lens without being scattered. As we age, the proteins denature and turn yellow. This process turns your lens into a cataract.
When to Consider Surgery
When you cataract starts to cause enough symptoms to affect your daily life, it is probably time for surgery. Glare is a common symptom of cataract. It is often first noticed when glare from the headlights at night make night driving more difficult. If your lifestyle requires that you drive at night on a frequent basis, you will likely need the procedure at an early stage of cataract formation. If you can decrease your night driving, you may be able to postpone the procedure.
As the cataract worsens, you will notice blurry vision for distance objects and reading. It becomes harder to recognize signs when driving at this stage of cataract. Many choose to have their procedure to resolve these symptoms of cataract.
This procedure usually takes ten to thirty minutes. You are awake but groggy from I.V. relaxing medicine provided by an anesthetist. Some patients prefer a light anesthetic so they can converse during the procedure while others prefer to be less aware.
There are two methods for cataract removal surgery, manual or laser. A manual procedure requires the surgeon to make the incisions with steel blades and instruments by hand to make a circular opening in the front lens capsule and break the lens into small pieces that can be vacuumed out.
With laser cataract removal the eye is imaged with a high definition scanner that presents precise images of your eye anatomy on a large screen. Your laser cataract removal surgeon designs the treatment on the screen, and then a femtosecond laser makes the incisions, opens the capsule, and divides the cataract lens into small pieces according to the designed plan. The entire laser cataract removal process is more precise and exact. In addition, laser cataract removal also makes incisions in your cornea round the eye and decreases astigmatism.
After the procedure, a replacement lens is implanted to restore focus. These replacement lenses come in a variety of powers and models. Measurements are done ahead of time to determine which replacement lens power will be best for your eye. Some of the replacement lenses correct for distance vision, others correct astigmatism, and others even offer both distance and near vision without glasses for many patients. As you prepare for surgery, your eye surgeon will discuss which of these replacement lens options would be ideal for you.
The recovery process is usually painless and quick. We usually have you wear an eye patch over the operated eye for the first three hours. Thereafter, you can remove the patch and start taking your eye drops. You will have several different kinds of eye drops. One will be an antibiotic to decrease the chances of infection. One or two other eye drops will be anti-inflammatory drops to modulate the amount inflammation during your cataract removal surgery recovery.
I allow my patients to resume normal activity and exercise if everything looks ideal on their first postoperative visit, except that I ask them to avoid swimming, hot tubs, and any contact related activities where they could get hit in the eye. It is not the exertion of exercise after the procedure that is a problem, it is the potential trauma from some sports that could hurt your eye.
Driving after Surgery
Driving after cataract removal surgery should be determined in a conversation with your eye surgeon. You cannot drive yourself home after cataract surgery because of the anesthetics administered. You can obtain a drivers license if either eye can pass the test. As such, if either your operated eye or your un-operated eye can pass the test you are legal to drive. When it is safe to drive depends on a number of factors other than just your vision.
There tends to be less corenal swelling after laser cataract removal with better vision earlier in the recovery process.
The cost of cataract removal surgery includes the facility fees, the anesthetist, the surgeon, and the replacement lens. This procedure is covered by your medical insurance if it is deemed “medically necessary.” Medicare pays 80% of those medically necessary fees.
Where you have the removal performed and which type of replacement lens you choose determine the costs of this procedure. The costs are less if you have the procedure done in a privately owned ASC than if you have it done in a hospital.
While the medically necessary parts of the cost are covered by your insurance, if you upgrade to laser cataract removal or one of the advanced technology replacement lenses, there would be additional out of pocket costs to cover the expenses of the higher technology.
If I can help provide any other information about the costs of this procedure or laser cataract removal, please schedule a time to meet with me at my office or post a comment.