Happy New Year All! To begin 2011, i would like to address some frequently asked questions about cataracts and cataract surgery. For the next six days, I will unwrap the the mysteries surrounding 6 Main concerns when considering Cataract Procedures:
1. What complications can arise from having Cataract Surgery?
2. What is the recovery time
3. Are there lens implants that correct for Astigmatism?
4. Post-operative expectations
5. Will I still need glasses after cataract surgery?
6. Lens implant cost and insurance
CATARACT SURGERY AND POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS:
Cataract Surgery complications and problems after Cataract removal are generally pretty rare and are usually less than 5% in an otherwise healthy group of patients. In patients with additional eye diseases such as Glaucoma or Diabetic Retinopathy the complication rate may increase. Nonetheless the overall success rate for Cataract Surgery is generally regarded as being between 85-92% with overall patient satisfaction being in the 95% range. As with any surgery, patients should be familiar with possible complications so that they can bring any unusual symptoms or signs to the attention of their Cataract Surgeon in order to help avoid potential complications of Cataract Surgery, Cataract Surgery problems or unusual side effects after Cataract removal.
Some short term Cataract Surgery problems and complications are those that we will define as occurring during or very soon after the actual surgical procedure-perhaps within the first 24 hours after surgery.
For the vast majority of patients the tiny incision placed during Cataract Surgery is self sealing. Sometimes the Corneal incision does not seal properly and may require the surgeon to apply a contact lens or a pressure bandage or in certain cases place a stitch in order to help the incision seal.
Though quite rare as there are no blood vessels in the clear portion of the cornea where the incision is made,some slight bleeding may occur in the front of the eye at which time your surgeon can easily cauterize it and stop it immediately.
If it was necessary to use an injection around your eye in addition to or in place of anesthetic eye drops due to some factor regarding your overall health, you may experience some temporary bruising around your eye. Although unusual, it does happen from time to time.
Inner Eye Infection after Cataract Surgery is extremely rare occurring in one out of several thousand Cataract Surgery procedures. To prevent infection, Cataract Surgeons typically have patients use antibiotic eye drops a day before and for a week after surgery. Antibiotics are also administered before during and after the actual procedure.
During your Cataract Surgery the cloudy or opacified lens material is removed from your eye. The membrane that surrounds the lens is left in place to support the Intraocular Lens Implant. Occasionally it is possible that the posterior lens capsule will tear or rupture during your surgery. If this happens the surgeon will alter his placement of the lens so that the IOL can be properly set into position.
Retinal Detachment after Cataract Surgery is unusual. However if you are extremely nearsighted you may be at greater risk for Retinal Detachment in general and especially when you have any type of eye surgery including Cataract Surgery. The symptoms of Retinal Detachment include floaters, flashing lights, a shadow in your vision, a bubble or curve in your vision, a sensation that a curtain or a veil is being pulled in front of your vision and a possible loss of your vision. If you experience ANY of these symptoms after Cataract Surgery you should call your Cataract Surgeon immediately.
In general secondary Glaucoma after Cataract Surgery is very unusual. However if there is other bleeding or inflammation it can predispose you to developing secondary Glaucoma after Cataract Surgery. In most instances Secondary Glaucoma after Cataract Surgery is temporary and can be treated with eye drops, laser treatment or a combination of both.
In the event the surgeon finds it necessary to use sutures or stitches,it is possible to distort the shape of the Cornea and induce astigmatism. Sometimes swelling of the Cornea alone can cause astigmatism to be induced. If swelling alone caused the induced astigmatism then it will gradually go away as the swelling diminishes. If the astigmatism was caused by the use of stitches, then once they are removed it is likely that the Cornea will return to its original shape.
Long term Cataract Surgery problems and complications are those that we will define as occurring from one week to as long as six months after Cataract Surgery.
While it is very rare, the artificial Lens Implant (IOL) used to correct your vision after Cataract Surgery can move slightly becoming decentered or move a greater amount and become dislocated. A decentered or dislocated Lens Implant (IOL) may cause you to experience blurry vision, haloes, glare, double vision, fading vision, fluctuating and varying vision or shimmering vision. If this should occur your Cataract Surgeon will most likely reposition the Lens Implant (IOL) or replace it with a different Lens Implant.
During the first three months or so after Cataract Surgery it is possible for the Macula, the visual center of the Retina, to be susceptible to microscopic swelling. Swelling of the Macula is likely to cause you to experience a decrease or blurring of your central or straight ahead vision. This can be mild or it can be significant. In most cases, Cystoid Macular Edema is treated with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication given as an oral and/or eye drop prescription.
The most common complication of Cataract Surgery is opacification of the posterior lens capsule resulting in the formation of a Secondary or After Cataract, which occurs after as many as 30% of Cataract Surgery procedures. When this occurs you will experience a gradual blurring of your vision. Fortunately your surgeon is able to use a YAG Laser to perform a quick painless procedure called a YAG Laser Capsulotomy in which a small opening is created in the cloudy membrane allowing your vision to be restored.
Problems and complications of Cataract Surgery are unusual if not rare. The overall success rate and patient satisfaction with Cataract Surgery make it a very safe and effective treatment for Cataracts.