It may be one of the most common procedures, but there’s an air of mystery around laser cataract surgery. More than that, people are often fearful when it comes up!
How can an everyday procedure like laser cataract surgery be so misunderstood?
We suspect part of the problem is people don’t even know what laser cataract surgery or cataracts are! Seriously, if you had to right now, would you be able to explain the procedure?
What is a cataract?
Before laser cataract surgery is ever discussed, you’ll need to be diagnosed with cataracts. Cataracts are a completely natural part of aging and will eventually affect everyone if they live long enough.
As the eye ages, it loses flexibility and its ability to focus. Around your forties or fifties, you may develop a cataract on the lens of your eye. When a cataract develops, proteins clump together and slowly affects your vision. The naturally clear lens of the eye slowly begins to become clouded.
You may not realize you have a cataract until you’ve had it for several years or even decades! At this point, your vision will deteriorate. It may become more difficult to take part in activities like reading, cleaning, or driving. As of right now, there is no cure for cataracts.
Instead, at Diagnostic Eye Center in Houston, laser cataract surgery is performed! We remove the cataract and the eye’s natural lens, which is then replaced with an artificial lens that helps patients to see clearly once again.
What is laser cataract surgery?
Whenever laser gets put in the name, people seem to get a little bit antsy! After all, cataract surgery can sound scary all by itself.
But laser cataract surgery? It sounds even worse! So, what is laser cataract surgery?
Laser cataract surgery is a common procedure performed worldwide. Before the procedure, you’ll receive numbing eye drops.
You are also given either oral or IV sedation. There’s no pain associated with laser cataract surgery because your eyes can’t feel anything during the procedure!
After your eyes are numb, a femtosecond laser, known as the LenSX Laser, makes tiny incisions in the eye. These incisions allow your cataract surgeon to create a small opening in the capsule. From there, we are able to access the cataract and your lens.
Your lens and cataract are removed thanks to a procedure known as phacoemulsification. It sounds complicated, but it’s not!
During phacoemulsification, an ultrasonic probe dissolves the cataract and breaks it down into smaller pieces. These pieces are then gently sucked away out of your eye.
After the cataract has been completely removed, we’ll put an IOL, or intraocular lens, in your eye. Your IOL will take on the job that your lens was once able to perform. This is an important part of how you get your vision back!
What does an IOL do?
An IOL, or artificial intraocular lens gives your eye flexibility while enhancing vision. There are many kinds of IOLs available depending on your lifestyle.
If you don’t mind wearing glasses after laser cataract surgery, there are standard IOLs. The standard IOL is known as a monofocal IOL. It is the most basic kind of IOL available, and covered by most insurances.
Since a monofocal IOL is a standard IOL, it can only focus at one distance. This is why you’ll need glasses even after cataract surgery.
If you don’t want a standard IOL, you and your eye doctor at Diagnostic Eye Center need to discuss other options. Premium IOLs allow wearers to see at many distances, reducing dependence on glasses!
As they are considered “premium” lenses, insurance will not cover them and they are more expensive than basic IOLs.
Recovering after laser cataract surgery
Although laser cataract surgery is a state-of-the-art procedure, you’ll still need to recover! Once the procedure is complete, you’ll rest for a few moments.
You’ll need to find someone to drive you home, as you cannot drive after the procedure. Once you’re home, it’s time for a little TLC!
Make sure you have a comfy place to relax, and avoid straining your eyes, at least on the first day. You’ll need to use the antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops provided by your doctor.
These drops reduce your chances of developing an infection and reduce inflammation. Even with regular use of the drops, you may find that your eyes look red or irritated.
This is normal and should get better after a few days. If irritation continues, or your eyes hurt, let your eye doctor know!
This can be a sign of complications and should be checked out as soon as possible. Although rare, it is possible to develop complications after laser cataract surgery.
Without complications, it can take a few months to heal after laser cataract surgery. During recovery, avoid strenuous activities like tennis, contact sports, or heavy lifting.
After a week, most patients feel good enough to return to work, but it depends! Many patients even return the next day! It’s up to you how long you want to sit at home and relax before going back to work.
The truth about laser cataract surgery
If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’ll let you in on a secret: there’s nothing to be afraid of when it comes to laser cataract surgery!
Yes, there is a laser involved, and the lens of your eye is permanently removed. Yes, you will have an IOL in your eye for the rest of your life, but you can’t feel it.
Getting laser cataract surgery is a good thing, and here’s why: you’ll get your vision back! What people may not tell you is that having cataracts is frustrating.
Your vision gets worse and wearing prescription glasses and contacts won’t help. It becomes nearly impossible to enjoy your favorite hobbies if you can’t see!
Now, after laser cataract surgery, your vision will be immensely improved! Colors are brighter, driving at night becomes easier, and you can see the world around you.
Although misunderstood, laser cataract surgery is truly life-changing!
Ready to put vision loss behind you? Schedule a cataract screening with Diagnostic Eye Center in Houston today! You’ll never regret the day you started your journey back to clear sight.