Cataract Surgery Recovery – How To Effectively Recover From Cataract Surgery

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You have probably heard people talk about cataracts and how they had to have surgery to correct them. This is something that is quite common and can affect nearly anyone. Cataracts can be a real inconvenience and must be handled quickly so they are not allowed to ruin your eyesight. Here is a look at what they are, including their causes, treatment options, and what cataract surgery recovery consists of. Keep reading this guide for more information.

What are Cataracts?

cataract surgery recovery

When someone has cataracts, it means that their vision starts to get cloudy. More specifically, the lens of the eye will start to look cloudy. When this happens, it does not dissipate. It can happen in one or both eyes.

The real problem arises if a cataract isn’t looked at and corrected, which can eventually lead to blindness. Many cases of blindness throughout the world are a result of cataracts, but the good thing is that surgery can fix the issue and restore vision.

Sometimes people choose to ignore this problem, since they think they just need new glasses or are afraid to go to the doctor. This is a mistake, and you should get cataracts looked at as soon as you start to experience differences in your vision or when you feel like you can’t see as well as you should. There is nothing to be afraid of, and you can save your eyesight when you are proactive about this type of thing.

They may also ignore the problem, since there is no pain associated with them. You should never experience pain when cataracts are developing, so don’t try to wait until they hurt to go to see a professional.

Symptoms

cataract surgery recovery

There are a few symptoms or warning signs that you should pay attention to if you think you have this issue. Again, it is important to note that cataracts do not cause any pain at all, so if you have redness or pain, you may have a different problem that needs to be investigated.

  • Colors don’t look bright. When you notice that colors aren’t as bright as they used to be, this could be something you want to investigate further. Cataracts have a yellow tinge, so they make colors seem less vibrant and in turn, offer you fuzzier images and colors. To you, it may seem like you are just getting older and your eyes aren’t as clear as they used to be. However, your problem may be more serious than that. On the other hand, you may just need new glasses. It won’t hurt to get yourself checked out to see.
  • Vision isn’t clear. You may also start to notice that your vision is not sharp and clear like it used to be. Things may seem blurry and out of focus, more so than usual. Besides that, you may see what are called halos around lights that look like orbs. In addition, they may seem too bright to you due to light scatter.
  • Overly sensitive to sunlight. Like with artificial light, stepping outside may appear too bright, even when the sun isn’t out. This is due to the amount of UV light present during the daylight hours, and it’s being scattered off of your cataract.
  • Inability to distinguish things in the dark. Many people are no longer able to drive at night. They are not able to see clearly once it is dark outside either, so it is generally a good idea to make sure there are people around you when you stay out late, especially those that can offer you a ride home.
  • Eyeglass prescription changes often. If you are going to your yearly eye doctor visits and your eyes are getting worse each time, there may be something else going on. Eyes do change from time to time, but they shouldn’t be changing much from year to year.

Causes and Risk Factors

There is not one standard cause for this condition. A person may get cataracts from a number of different things. Some babies are born with this defect and may need to get it fixed right away. Look at these risk factors, since they can help anyone learn more about this common ailment.

Age

Once you get to be a certain age, you are more susceptible to cataracts. This can start anywhere from age 40 to 55, which is why it is imperative to make sure that you are getting checkups and taking care of your health. The likelihood grows as you get older as well, and most people in their 80s have some form of cataract.

Radiation

Exposure to radiation is a risk factor. In some cases, those who have been treated for cancer or other issues may contract cataracts. This is something to discuss with your doctor, as this may be able to be prevented.

Besides just radiation, if you are outside in the elements too often, this eye problem may occur. Keep in mind that the sun is very powerful and you need to protect other parts of your body, not just your skin.

Illnesses or Prescriptions

A handful of illnesses may cause this eye condition as well. For example, if you have diabetes, you may also get cataracts more easily. On the other hand, it could be due to prescriptions that you are taking already. Sometimes patients that take steroids will get this issue more readily.

Additionally, there are other pills that contribute to cataracts like cholesterol medications or hormone replacement treatments. Check the side effects on the medicines you take or talk to your health care provider for more information.

Injuries

Certain types of injuries can cause cataracts. These include blunt force injuries and those more prevalent in glassworkers and welders. Take care of your eyes at all times to protect yourself.

If you have had other types of eye surgery, you will have a higher risk of getting cataracts and a longer cataract surgery recovery. Once the eye has been damaged, it may not be able to repair itself fully, meaning you’ll have to be more careful.

Treatment Options

There is good news regarding cataracts. They are highly treatable, and depending on when you notice them and have them checked out, there are a few things you can do about them.

Glasses or Contacts

cataract surgery recovery

One solution is getting new glasses and contacts. Sometimes cataracts aren’t too bad and don’t affect vision too much. When this happens, getting a different visual aid can help you out before you consider something more permanent.

The doctor can then check to see if there are any changes and tell if the issue is getting worse or staying the same.

Surgery

A cataract operation is very common, and one of the most common surgeries performed today. It’s the only way to completely rid you of them, and this surgery is relatively minor compared to other types you may get throughout your life. Cataract surgery recovery is not something to fear.

What happens during surgery?

cataract surgery recovery

While you are getting ready for the surgery, they will need to be sure that your eye area is numb so you will not be in pain during the procedure. This normally involves eye drops being placed in your eyes as well as an anesthetic for your eyes and maybe even something to help you relax while you are being operated on. You can be awake for this type of surgery.

The first step of the surgery includes breaking up much of the lens that is already in the eye. This is the thing that is causing the problem, and it is usually damaged and yellow. A doctor may break up the lens in one of a few ways.

One way is by using an ultrasound technique to break it up. The doctor may also use a laser to make a small incision or make an incision the old-fashioned way to remove the offending lens.

If any incision is made, there is a chance there will be stitches placed in the eye, which will make the site take longer to heal and increase cataract surgery recovery.

After this is done, it is time to put in a new lens. This lens may be made from a number of different materials, including plastic or silicone. Once it is placed inside of your eyeball, it is designed to become part of your eye without any issues. Over the years to come, it will work just like your natural lens and should not cause you any further trouble.

Depending on your insurance company and how much you are willing to pay out of pocket, there are lenses that can fix your vision or astigmatism that work essentially like wearing contacts inside your eye. You may want to talk about your options and see what the best type of lens is for your particular case.

The whole process is outpatient and doesn’t take up a lot of time.

Recovery Time

In terms of cataract surgery recovery time, the maximum amount of time it takes to heal fully is 8 weeks or so, although in many instances, it may not take that long. Overall, it is a safe procedure that is completed millions of times each year.

The entire surgery only takes two hours or less, so it doesn’t take much time or disrupt your life too much. You can leave the clinic or doctor’s office the same day, but you will need to have a follow up a day or so later to make sure everything was successful and to check in on your cataract surgery recovery.

After that time, your next appointment will be scheduled usually a week or so after the first follow up. This is to make sure that you are healing just fine. After this, most things get back to normal, unless you need more time to heal. Many people heal very quickly when they watch what they get near their eyes and take it easy for a while.

You can’t do all the things you want to do at first since it may take a week or more for your eyes to start seeing properly. It helps if you have someone to drive you around and assist you around the house at first.

Outlook

Most of the time a surgery is able to fix the problem. Occasionally, the issue will return and you will have to have another procedure done to fix it. This is due to fibers on the back surface of the lens left after surgery. It may need to be corrected, so that no future cataracts occur.

If this happens, you will simply need to visit your doctor for another simple outpatient procedure that takes just a few minutes. It involves making a hole in the leftover material, so that you can see out of it better. Afterwards, you must take it easy for a few hours and then get back to your daily life after cataract surgery recovery.

There may also be pain and redness after the surgery, and it can take a bit before your eyes start to work at their best. This is nothing out of the ordinary, and as long as it is closely monitored, should not cause any problems.

During this time, you may have to wear patches, special sunglasses, or use eye drops to be sure that your eyes heal properly. You may even have to wear patches while you are sleeping so you don’t rub your eyes. It is best if you follow all the surgeon’s instructions and keep your hands away from your eyes at all times until they fully heal.

When taken care of properly after a surgery, a patient should have no additional problems with their eyes in regards to cataracts.

As a whole, most people make a full recovery and can see more clearly and possibly even better than they could before the surgery. Depending on what type of lens was put in, they still may need to wear glasses, but their prescription is unlikely to change a lot like when they were suffering from this eye condition.

Things to Stay Away from After Surgery

While your eye is healing during the cataract surgery recovery process, you’ll need to keep some things in mind for best results:

  • Do not get water in your eyes. It is important that you do not get any water in your eyes during the first few days post-op. This means that if you have to wash your face or take a shower, you must keep your eyes closed. Regular tap water contains bacteria that can cause eye infections and should not come in contact with your healing eyes.
  • Limit exercising and exerting yourself. You will need to skip the heavy lifting and exercising for a little while as well. It is better to stay off your feet and make sure that you have time to get better. You don’t want your stitches to break or eye pressure to rise because you decided to go lift weights. When you go back for your checkup after surgery, you can ask any questions you may have about when you can get back to work or exercising.
  • Stay away from harsh chemicals, dirt, and dust. There is no reason to start cleaning or washing clothes right away when particles and smells can irritate your eyes and wreak havoc. You can get back to those things whenever you are feeling better and your vision is clearer.
  • Don’t go out in the sun. You have to stay out of the sun as well. You should remain indoors for at least the first few days, so leave your errand running to someone else for a little bit. You do not want to get harmful rays in your eyes, which may have been a contributing factor to your cataracts in the first place.
  • Have someone stay with you. If you need things done around your house, you may want to have someone stay with you for a few days to take care of you. Of course, you won’t be an invalid, but it helps in case you have episodes where things are blurry or you need assistance with meals and chores. If you do not have a friend of family member to stay with you, at least ask someone you can count on if you can call them.
  • Relax until you heal. Besides staying away from these things, it is vital to take care of yourself. Relax until you are feeling better. You need your eyes to be your friends for your entire life, so consider that when taking care of them.

Preventative Measures

cataract surgery recovery

There are a few ways you may be able to prevent cataracts, although it may not be the case for everyone:

  • Get regular eye checkups. When you are going to the eye doctor regularly, generally once a year, they will be able to tell you if they see any irregularities. This helps limit damage to your eyesight, since any problem can be addressed in a timely manner.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating foods that are good for you is beneficial for your entire body, even your eyes. Be sure to eat a good mix of fruits and vegetables. Some people like to eat a colorful mix of the two to balance out some of the unhealthy things that they may eat. There is research that suggests some vitamins are essential to eye health, so try to have many colors of the rainbow on your plate. It is also a good idea to take in the proper number of calories, since eating too little can be just as bad as eating too much. If you can’t get all your nutrients each day, take a high-quality supplement or multivitamin, to keep you covered.
  • Stay hydrated. You might not think about how important it is to stay hydrated, but it is really one of the most significant things to remember. When you have enough water in your system, it can help your eyes stay healthy since they won’t be dry and irritated.
  • Limit your smoking and alcohol. Smoking is bad for your health for a number of reasons, but if you are a smoker, limiting your nicotine can be a good thing for your eyes. This is also true for alcohol, so keep an eye on the levels you drink as well. These are topics that you might want to speak to your optometrist or ophthalmologist about so that you can get some professional advice on safe amounts.
  • Wear sunglasses. UV light can damage your eyes and cause them to become weaker. This is why you should wear sunglasses whenever you can. If you are always driving or outside in the middle of the day, you should definitely be wearing them. Remember that even when it is cloudy or snowy, there can be a high amount of UV outside.
  • Get new eyeglasses when necessary. Purchasing new glasses when it is recommended is a good thing. You can rest assured that your eyes are able to see through lenses that are just right and aren’t scratched up or damaged either.

Conclusion

Cataracts are something talked about frequently but perhaps not as understood as they should be. It is a condition that affects many all over the world, and in some areas, people are unable to get the surgery and care required to take care of the problem.

However, in other countries, it is quite easy to treat. There are certain symptoms to watch out for as well as aspects to consider, since they are possible causes or risk factors. The most common risk factor is a person’s age. As we grow older, there are parts of the body that do not work as well as they did in youth. Your eyes can be one of these body parts and start to show signs of age or wear. This happens generally in your 50s or 60s but may get worse as you get older.

You can do your best to prepare yourself for this type of thing when you keep yourself safe. Easy to accomplish tasks like taking in vitamins and minerals, protecting yourself from harmful sun rays, and even getting checked out often can go a long way to making sure that you don’t get cataracts. However, if you do still develop them, these good habits will help you figure out that there is something going on sooner.

When it comes time to treat the problem, the most effective route is surgery. In this case, surgery is something minor and doesn’t require a hospital stay. The whole thing is done in a matter of hours, and you can go home the same day.

The cataract surgery recovery process is relatively straightforward as well and will take a maximum of eight weeks. When you follow doctor’s orders, you can have some normalcy within the first week or so, although you’ll need to take it easy for longer than that.

The crucial thing to remember when you are considering and getting surgery is that without it, you may lose your sight altogether, so it is still very serious. Afterwards, you will have a new lens in your eye or eyes and will be able to see much better than before. You might not even need your glasses anymore, depending on what was used during your operation.

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