Cataracts are a common eye condition affecting an estimated 24.4 million Americans over the age of 40. Cataracts occur when the small, transparent disc that is the lens of the eye starts to develop clouded patches. These patches are made from proteins that are usually evenly dispersed across the eye clumping together, affecting the quality of your vision. Many people who suffer from cataracts describe the condition as similar to viewing everything permanently through frosted glass. Although they most often develop in older people, they can start to form at any time and get progressively worse until your vision is severely affected. They can develop in one eye or both, and their rate of development can vary too.
There is primarily just one treatment that can permanently eliminate vision problems caused by cataracts – cataract surgery.
Cataract surgery is a very simple, straightforward procedure that is commonly performed at Santa Barbara EyeCare. Studies estimate that around 4 million cataract surgeries are performed in the U.S. every year and this number is predicted to grow as an increasing number of people develop the condition.
Cataract surgery involves removing the natural, clouded lens affected by cataracts and replacing it with an artificial alternative, called an intraocular lens or IOL for short. The procedure is carried out using a local anesthetic and can be performed in less than an hour. You’ll also be able to go home the very same day.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, although it is possible to have the procedure for both the same day, the majority of patients are advised against this. This is because your vision will be significantly impaired for a few days following your cataract surgery and having both eyes treated at the time will leave you visually compromised during that time. Instead, most cataract eye doctors will recommend that you have the procedure on one eye at a time, with a recovery period of 6-8 weeks in between them.
There are various different types of intraocular lenses to choose from, including those which can correct refractive vision problems such as myopia (nearsightedness). Your cataract surgeon in Santa Barbara will be happy to advise you which IOL will be best suited to your needs.
There is no need to wait until your cataracts are advanced to have treatment. Instead, you can choose to undergo surgery at any stage. Your cataract surgeon at Santa Barbara EyeCare will talk to you about when it is the right time for you to have this procedure.
Dr. Katsev, your cataract surgeon, will want to check that your eyes are healthy, you are in good general health and there are no underlying issues that need to be resolved first before you can have cataract surgery.
The most notable thing about recovery from cataract surgery is that your vision will be blurred for a number of days as your eyes start to heal and adjust to the IOL. During this time, you may also experience symptoms including redness, soreness, irritation, and excessive watering. These symptoms could last several days or longer, and it can take up to 6 weeks to achieve the optimal improvement in your vision.
You’ll be able to go home the same day as your surgery, but you’ll need someone to drive you and make sure you are settled since your vision will be blurred. You’ll also be given a list of post-surgery instructions that it is essential that you follow to reduce your risk of experiencing complications and accelerate your recovery.
If you would like more information about cataract surgery, or to schedule an appointment to talk to us about this procedure, please contact our Santa Barbara EyeCare team at (805) 967-9990 today.