Recovery from Cataract Surgery
What to Expect from Cataract Surgery
Have you been told that you have cataracts and that you should have them removed? If you have, you will have questions about the process that faces you. I have recently had cataract surgery on both eyes. I will share my experience with you here. I also invite other people to leave comments about their own cataract procedures, their recovery from the surgery and their vision improvement afterwards.
As well as plenty of factual information, this lens contains a video of a modern cataract surgery performed in real time. You are best to avoid it if you are squeamish.
And finally, I relate a frightening situation with one eye that I believe I corrected using alternative therapies. You get a chance to join the debate and let us know where you stand on these alternative healing modalities.
Poll on Cataract Procedures
What is your personal experience with cataracts?
It's Not Your Mother's Cataract Surgery
Three Cheers for Modern Medicine
When my mother had her cataracts removed many years ago, it was a difficult procedure. She was hospitalized as an inpatient. Following the surgery, she spent ten days lying flat on her back.
I had my first eye done in November of 2010, and the second in February of 2011. In both cases, my ophthalmologist opted for outpatient surgery in our local hospital. My pre op instructions were to fast beginning at midnight and, then present myself at the hospital the next morning before nine. Upon arriving at the hospital, the nursing staff administered some eye drops and an Atavin tablet which dissolved under my tongue.
In a short time, I was taken to the surgical unit where my doctor gave me a brief eye exam and drew an X on my forehead over the eye to be worked on. They take great care to be sure they are working on the correct eye. Next, surgical nurses took me into the operating room where they directed me to lie on the surgical table. They draped me with a sheet and covered the eye that was not to receive treatment.
The ophthalmologist appeared and did the procedure. A topical anesthesia was used. I have no recollection of how and when this anesthesia was introduced into my eye but it worked as expected. I had a bit of pain with my first eye, which has always had extreme astigmatism. When I had the second eye done a few months later, the discomfort for the second eye was little to nothing.
The procedure took about fifteen minutes. Since the eye not being operated on was covered, I could not see what was happening. I did see strange and peculiar red triangular shaped geometrics. The ophthalmologist later told me these pink geometrics were related to blood vessels in the eye.
I could also hear an unusual humming sound during the procedure. This was the sound created by the utrasound tools, according to the surgeon.
Once the procedure was finished, I was led back to the waiting area where the nurse phoned my ride to come and pick me up.
And that was it. I had some post-op pain with the first eye and next to none with the second. Over the counter painkillers (not aspirin) were all that was needed.
The next day, I returned to the ophthalmologist's office for a checkup. He was satisfied that the eye was healing as expected. I returned again in two weeks time for a second checkup. Everything was still fine. Two weeks after that, I visited my optometrist and had an eye exam. I still needed to wear prescription glasses with progressive lenses, but the vision was considerably better than it was before having the surgery.
Q and A about Cataracts and Cataract Surgery
- Aren't cataracts an old person's condition? That is both true and false. It is true that most cataracts develop as part of the aging process and become a problem when the person is in their sixties or seventies. However, it is possible to develop cataracts much younger than that. I was approximately fifty when mine were first diagnosed.
And did you know that children sometimes develop cataracts? Pediatric cataract surgery is a specialized procedure.
- Are cataracts a growth over the eye? That is false. Cataracts are a clouding or opacity in the crystalline lens. There is no growth or tumor.
- Will cataracts blind me eventually if I don't have them removed? Not necessarily. Having a cataract does not necessarily mean that you will go blind or that you must do something about it. Until the cataract sufficiently affects your vision, you may opt to avoid the procedure. However, there are cases where having a cataract removed is imperative, regardless of the vision. If a cataract becomes overly mature (overripe), if it begins to release damaging chemicals, if it contributes to glaucoma or if it prevents treatment of another eye disease, you will need to have it removed.
- What causes a cataract? Typically, cataracts develop as part of the aging process. They stem from a change in the chemical composition of the lens. Other causative factors include prolonged exposure to sunlight, eye injuries, some eye diseases, birth defects, certain medications and heredity.
- Does reading or other close work contribute to cataracts? No. Refer to the question above.
- How quickly does a cataract progress? It depends. The time varies from person to person. In my specific case, it took close to 15 years from the first diagnosis to the time I decided to have them removed.
- How are cataracts treated? At this time, cataract surgery is the only treatment. You may be able to delay the procedure by changing the prescription of your glasses or by dilating the eye.
Cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL). If you opt not to have an IOL, you will have to restore your vision with special cataract glasses or contact lenses. These two options are less than ideal. Best results come from installation of an IOL.
There are various procedures used in cataract surgery. My physician used phacoemulsification, which involves inserting a needle-like ultrasonic instrument into the eye. The instrument produces high-frequency sound waves which break the opaque lens into tiny segments. The instrument then suctions these fragments out via its hollow tubing.
- Will I have perfect vision afterwards? This is an issue to discuss with your ophthalmologist. The vision after the eye has healed will depend to quite an extent on the condition of the eye aside from the cataracts. In my situation, vision was improved considerably but I still have to wear progressive lenses. Pre-existing conditions such as astigmatism or diseases affecting the retina or optic nerve will affect the outcome.
- Will I be awake during the procedure? This is an issue to discuss with your surgeon. However, the chances are good that yes, you will be awake. I was offered an Atavin tablet, which I accepted. I turned down an offer of conscious sedation ( which leaves you awake bit disinterested and disengaged from the procedure).
- Is it true that they insert a needle in the eye to administer local anesthesia? This depends upon the type of surgery you are having and the type of lens that you are having implanted. In my case, the anesthesia was delivered via a topical application (some sort of eye drops, I believe). Had I opted for a hard, non-folding lens implant rather than a Folding Lens implant, I would have required the needle in the eye.
- What kind of lenses are implanted? There may be other options, but these are the ones my ophthalmologist offered me:
Hard, Non Folding Lens Implant. This is the most economical choice, and the only one that was covered by my health insurance. These lenses require a larger incision, leading to longer healing and possibly an increase in post operative corneal astigmatism. There is an increased occurrence of scarring on the membrane behind the lens implant. Medically, this is known as posterior capsular opacification. Should this occur, it may require a laser treatment.
Folding Lens Implants
These implants were available in four varieties, ranging in price from $375 per eye to $1750 per eye. (This is in Canada, and amounts quoted are in Canadian dollars).
After extensive testing, the surgeon recommends the lens that is best suited to your eye. Both of my eyes required a type of lens called the Astigmatic, Single vision, Folding Lens Implant (Toric). The cost to me was $950 per eye.
- What does it cost? This will depend upon where you live and the type of insurance you have. I am Canadian, so the surgical procedure itself, plus most of the testing, was covered by health insurance. Had I chosen the Hard, Non-Folding lens, the cost would have been covered by medical insurance. Since I chose the more expensive versions, I was required to pay for them myself.
There may also be the cost of new prescriptions glasses afterwards.
- What happens during recovery from cataract surgery? This will depend upon your individual situation. Your surgeon will advise you. In my case, and I think this is typical, I was told to avoid strenuous exercise for ten days to two weeks. I was to avoid washing my hair and showering for three days, and I was required to use eye drops for two or three weeks. With the first eye, I was told not to drive for a week. With the second eye, which was a much easier procedure, I was able to drive within two days.
- When can I go back to work? This is something to discuss with your surgeon. It will depend on your eye condition and of course, on the type of work you do. If you do hard physical work, expect to be away for a couple of weeks.
Real Time Video of Modern Cataract Surgery - Caution: Not for the Squemish
This video depicts the type of cataract surgery that I had. The ophthalmologist is using the ultrasound phacoemulsification method and inserts an aspheric silicone lens.
Links to Alternative Healing Modalities
- Silva Method | Seminars
This web site goes to the official Silva Method site. Be aware that many others are using similar names. I cannot recommend the others as I know nothing about them.
- Discover How to Use EFT Tapping, a Combination of Ancient Chinese Acupressure and Modern Psychology,
EFT Tapping, a Combination of Ancient Chinese Acupressure and Modern Psychology, to Improve Your Health, Wealth, Relationships, Level of Happiness, and More
My Scary Post Op Situation
Thank Goodness for an Alternative Therapy
Although all is well that ends well, I had a frightening experience following surgery on my right eye. This was the first eye that was done, and it was more problematic than is typical. The eye itself was extremely astigmatic, and had been so since I was a teenager.
My right eye post-op challenge involved an extreme sensitivity to light that remained a major problem almost two weeks following the operation. Discussion with the medical professionals did not really shed any light (bad pun!) on my problem.
When I say extreme light sensitivity, I mean I could not drive my car on a sunny day, even when wearing sunglasses. Moreover, I could not walk outside on a sunny day without closing my right eye to escape the blinding glare.
This frightened me enough that I was considering cancelling the second eye procedure. My reasoning was that if both eyes were like this one following surgery, I would be effectively blind.
Since I have been a practitioner of mind/body holistic healing for many years, I decided to correct the condition myself if possible. I spent several hours doing my preferred therapies, a combination of Silva Method Meditation and EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) tapping.
For more information about these two practices, please see the links to the right side.
Once day, while at work with Silva and the meridian tapping, I felt something shift in my eye. The light sensitivity decreased immediately to quite an extent. It continued to decrease for the next several days until it was functioning as a normal eye.
When I went to the ophthalmologist for my follow up checkup, I was told that this type of thing sometimes occurs if the brain is not recognizing the new lens.
Without my alternative therapies, it is difficult to say when, if ever, the condition would have corrected itself over time.
Debate: Alternative Therapy: Friend or Foe?
So what's your take on my story above? Do you believe my meridian tapping and healing visualizations caused my brain to suddenly start recognizing the new lens, or do you think it happened by coincidence?
Have you ever tried alternative therapies to treat a condition? Would you?
Did an alternative therapy fix my eye challenge as described above?
Cataract Links on the Web
I have attempted to link to sites that are respected sources. You will not find any snake oil salesmen here.
Links to Cataract Information
- Cataract - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wikipedia's coverage of cataracts and cataract surgery
- Facts About Cataract | National Eye Institute
National Eye Institute, NIH, is dedicated to vision research that saves sight & reduces visual impairment & blindness.
- Cataract: MedlinePlus
Cataract information from MedlinePlus -- a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine From the National Institutes of HealthNational Institutes of Health
- Cataracts - Guide to Cataract Symptoms, Treatment
Complete cataract information: causes, symptoms, treatment and new artificial lens options including multifocals, UV blockers.
- Overview - Cataracts - Mayo Clinic
Cataracts often affect people as they age, causing blurry, dim vision that gets worse over time. Learn how surgery to replace the cloudy lens can help.
- Cataracts Causes, Types, Surgery, Treatment, Symptoms, Signs, Diagnosis and Prevention by MedicineNe
There are many causes of non age-related cataracts. Read about causes, types, surgery complications, treatment, symptoms, signs, diagnosis and prevention information.
- WedMed. Cataracts | Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
Learn more about your eyes and cataracts, including the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.