Winter is the season in which most people prefer to get their eyes operated for cataract. In this blog, I’ll be discussing various types of cataract surgeries, so you can choose the right one for you.
What is cataract?
Cataract is an eye condition in which the natural lens in the eye becomes cloudy and the person experiences difficulty in seeing clearly.
Cataract is most commonly seen in older people but can affect younger people and even children. I have written about the most common causes of cataract in my other post.
How do I know if I have cataract?
Most common symptom of cataract is a painless blurring of vision that gets worse over time.
I have given a detailed description of symptoms of cataract in my other blog along with images to help you understand better.
Is surgery necessary for the treatment of cataract?
Yes. Once cataract develops in an eye, the only treatment is to get it removed surgically.
There are no medicines that can cure a cataract.
What exactly is done in a cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is a simple procedure that takes only about 10-15 minutes to complete. During the surgery, the cloudy lens of your eye will be replaced by a clear artificial lens that will help you see clearly once again.
What are the different types of cataract surgeries?
1. Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery
Small incision cataract surgery is also known as it’s short form SICS.
In the name of this surgery, the term small incision is actually a misnomer, because the size of the cut made on your eye in this type of surgery is around 6.5mm.
In this surgery, the surgeon will first administer a local anesthetic injection around your eye so that your eye becomes numb and you don’t feel any pain.
After the anesthesia takes effect, a sterile drape is applied and then a speculum to keep your eyes open. Then the surgeon makes an incision on your eyes and remove the cataract as a whole and implants the lens of your choice. No sutures are required and the incision heals on its own. At the end of the surgery, a bandage will be placed on your eyes for a few hours till the effect of the anesthetic wears off.
Once the bandage is removed, you will experience improvement in vision immediately, and your vision will become even more clear in the next few days. You may experience mild pain, irritation and watering from the operated eye for a few days.
You may be advised about a 2-3 days rest after which you can resume your daily activities.
You will be prescribed some eye drops that you will have to use for up to a month after the surgery.
SICS is an effective low cost surgery. The only drawback is that you’ll need slightly more time to recover completely compared to other advanced surgeries.
Here is a simple animated video of Small Incision Cataract Surgery to help you understand the process.
2. Phacoemulsification cataract surgery
This is an advanced form of surgery that is commonly performed these days.
This surgery does not require any injection for anesthesia. An anesthetic gel or eye drops are applied to your eye and you won’t feel any pain. You will still be able to move your eyes, and your surgeon may ask you to keep your eyes focussed on a light throughout the surgery.
In this type of surgery, a smaller incision of 2.8mm is made on your eye, and the machine probe tip is introduced in the eye. The probe “emulsifies” the cataractous lens and removes it.
Then a “foldable lens” is inserted into your eye that can be folded so that it can be inserted through the small 2.8mm incision.
No sutures or bandages are needed after phacoemulsification. You will be given protective glasses to wear post surgery to protect your eyes till they heal completely. Also like in small incision cataract surgery, you will have to use eye drops for 2-3 weeks after surgery.
Here is an animated video to help you understand phacoemulsification cataract surgery.
3. Femtosecond laser assisted Cataract Surgery
This is the most advanced form of cataract that is performed in a few centers.
In this surgery, the incision is made on your eyes with the help of lasers instead of blades and therefore the incisions are more precise.
Almost all of the surgery is similar to phacoemulsification. The actual cataract removal technique is the same as phacoemulsification cataract surgery. The only difference is that lasers are used for incisions instead of blades.
Same as in phacoemulsification surgery, anasthetic is given in form of eye drops or gel and no injections are required. After the surgery, there will be no sutures or bandages on your eyes, and you will be advised to use certain eye drops for 2-3 weeks.
Here is an animated video to help you understand the exact process of femtosecond laser assisted cataract surgery.
What is Intraocular Lens (IOL)?
An IOL is an artificial lens that is implanted in the eye once the natural lens having cataract is removed.
In all three types of cataract surgeries discussed above, an IOL is implanted.
Different types of lenses are available and you can choose your lens as per your preference. I will discuss the details about these lenses in one of my upcoming blogs.
How to care for your eyes post surgery?
Cataract surgery is a quick procedure and recovery takes place quite fast. You may have to take certain precautions till your eye heals completely.
You need to ensure that you put your eye drops as advised by your doctor, and go for post-op check-ups as advised.
Maintain hygiene by cleaning your eyes with sterile wipes. Don’t touch your operated eye with unclean hands or cloth as it could lead to infection. You may be advised to avoid a head bath for a few days after surgery to avoid dirty water from getting into your operated eye.
Protect your eyes from injury by wearing protective glasses.
I will write a separate blog about the details of dos and don’ts before and after cataract surgeries in my upcoming blogs.
I hope through this blog, I have been able to explain about different types of cataract surgeries so that you could decide on which type of surgery you would choose for yourself or your loved ones.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll see you soon in my next blog till then take good care of your eyes and stay healthy!