A number of us may have to go through cataract surgery in the future. In fact, up to half of Americans will have cataracts by the time they’re 75 years old. So what does this mean, what is the treatment and if surgery is in your future, what can you expect?
What are Cataracts?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “A cataract is when your eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy. Proteins in your lens break down and cause things to look blurry, hazy or less colorful.”
This video has a great visual way of explaining how cataracts affect vision:
Causes of Cataracts
While simple aging is the number one reason cataracts can occur, it’s not the only cause. Normally as we age, the proteins in the lens of the eyes can start to break down and the lens becomes cloudy.
Other items that can cause cataracts:
- Genetics – if immediate family members have them, you are at a greater risk of having them too at some point
- Having spent much time in the sun over your lifetime, especially without protection of wearing sunglasses
- Injury to the eyes or previous eye surgeries
Treatment of Cataracts
An eye doctor will determine, by performing a comprehensive eye exam (including dilation) if you have cataracts. If it is determined to be very early stages or if you are not experiencing vision changes, you may not have to have surgery at the time of diagnosis. *Discuss the severity and your options with your eye doctor at the time of the diagnosis.
Things to do once diagnosed with cataracts
- If night driving is becoming challenging for you, avoid it altogether
- Be sure that you’re managing co-existing diseases, such as diabetes
- Brighter lights while reading or performing hand-eye small tasks may help
- Quit smoking
- Wear UV blocking sunglasses and/or a hat when out during the day time
If it is determined that you’ll need surgery, ask your doctor what to expect, what the benefits and possible complications could be and how long you should expect to be in recovery, based on age and pre-existing conditions.
The surgery itself is a straightforward process, usually only lasting less than half an hour. The surgeon removes the natural lens of the eye and replaces it with an artificial lens. There are two methods by which a surgeon may do that. Click here for more information on the two methods.
The surgery is performed as an out-patient procedure. Generally patients are in the hospital for 3-6 hours, as they can be released as soon as they feel ready to go home.
Healthy people who receive surgery may see an improvement in their vision as quickly as 48 hours. But the time it takes to fully heal is a different matter. It can take between 6 to 10 weeks to be fully healed.
Our bodies heal more slowly as we age and healing time is also affected by pre-existing conditions and overall health of the patient.
Healing and Post-Surgery Expectations
During the healing time, there are a number of things you can expect:
You will experience some discomfort. Although the procedure is fairly simple, there are always side-effects of having a surgery done and the most common is discomfort in the eyes, as well as dryness and possibly itchiness or irritation.
Your eyes will look different. Expect that your eyes will look red, bloodshot and generally tired. It’s all part of the healing process.
Follow the guidelines and instructions set by your eye doctor. There will be special eye-drops and medications that need to be taken post-surgery. Following the instructions from your doctor is critical to a healthy (and hopefully shorter) healing period.
Consider having home-health care come into the home to help. If you do not have family members in the home who can help out with day-to-day activities in the time period after your surgery, home health care is a wonderful option. See below for our contact information if you’re located in South Florida.
While it can feel intimidating, having cataracts and possibly surgery to correct them is actually quite common. Speak with your doctor about any concerns you may have about your eye health.
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Do you have questions about how you can better support your loved one while they age in place in South Florida or regarding homecare in general? Please contact CareGivers of America here: Contact or call us toll free: 800-342-4197
*No information in this article is to be taken as advice, medical or otherwise. This post is not sponsored, but may contain external links to websites, articles or product examples. External links are used for example or refence purposes only and these links do not indicate specific product or website endorsement by CareGivers of America.