Cataracts surgery is a procedure whereby the lens of the eye, which has an opaque spot, is removed through surgical techniques that involve phacoemulsification (FACO), laser femtosecond or extra capsular extraction of the lens (EECP), then it is replaced by a synthetic lens.
The stain that appears in the lens of the eye, which gives rise to cataracts, arises due to progressive loss of vision, which is usually a consequence of natural ageing. However, it can also be as a result of genetic factors which can be congenital. It can also arise after having head accidents or strong knocks on the eye.
How the surgery is done
Cataract surgery can be done through three different techniques:
- Phacoemulsification (FACO): In this procedure, local anaesthesia in form of eye drops is used so as to prevent the patient from feeling pain during the surgery. In this procedure, the lens of the eye with the opaque stain is aspirated and removed through a micro incision then it is replaced by a foldable transparent intraocular lens. There is usually no need for stitches and this allows for immediate recovery of vision.
- Femtosecond laser: This procedure involves using a laser called Lensx Laser. The technique is similar to the previous one however, the incision made by this laser is more accurate. Afterwards, the lens is aspirated and then the intraocular lens is used as the replacement. However, this time the lens is placed according to the choice of the ophthalmologist, who will either go for the foldable or the rigid one.
- Extra capsular lens extraction (EECP): Although this method is less used, it involves use of local anaesthesia and it consists of the entire removal of the lens manually. This will remove the stain caused by the cataracts. It is then replaced by a rigid transparent intraocular lens. This procedure has points around the entire the entire lens and the duration for recovery of total vison is usually from 30 to 90 days.
Cataract surgery is a procedure that can take from 20 to 2 hours depending on the technique that the ophthalmologist chooses to use.
Usually, the recovery time after surgery lasts from 1 day to a week especially if the technique used was FACO or laser technique. For the case of EECP technique, recovery can take up to 1 to 3 months.
How is the recovery
During the recovery period, the patient may have sensitivity to light in the first few days in addition to a feeling of having a speck in the eye. However, these signs should always be reported to the ophthalmologist during the routine consultations for further evaluations.
In the first week of the recovery period, the ophthalmologist may prescribe eye drops and in some cases antibiotics may also be used. It is also important to use these medication sat the correct time as well as avoiding consumption of alcohol and drugs in the recovery period.
Care during recovery
Other important care during recovery include:
- Rest during the first day after surgery
- Avoid driving for 15 days
- Sit for meals only
- Avoid swimming pool or sea
- Avoid physical activities that require a lot of effort
- Avoid sports, physical activities and lift weight
- Avoid the use of makeup
- Protect your eyes during sleep
It is also recommended to wear sunglasses whenever you go out on the streets especially during the first few days of recovery.
Possible risks of surgery
There are various risks that come with cataract surgery such as infection and bleeding in sights of incision. There may also be blindness when the medical guidelines are not properly followed.
For congenital cataracts, the risks are higher because the healing process of a child is different from that of an adult. The tissues of the eye are smaller and more fragile and this is a factor that makes the surgery much difficult. Therefore, follow-up should be made after the procedure is done so that the child’s vision can be stimulated in the best way possible and that refraction problems (degree of glasses) are corrected if necessary for better vision.