Do you or a loved one suffer from blurry or clouded vision? If so, there may be a chance that a cataract eye surgery is needed to clear the vision. As we age, it's common for the clear lens inside our eyes to gradually develop opaque spots called cataracts. But while they cause irritating symptoms at first, untreated cataracts can progress to serious vision impairment.
In this article, we'll cover what exactly cataract surgeries are, how the surgical process works and how it relieves patients of their cloudy vision complaints. Let’s start.
Simply put, cataract surgery is a surgical procedure to remove or pull out a clouded lens inside the eye that is causing decreased or blurred vision and substitute it with an artificial lens implant.
As we age, the proteins in the eye's natural lens can break down, causing it to become hazy or cloudy or opaque - a condition known as a cataract. While ageing is the most common cause, cataracts may also form due to eye injuries, diseases, long-term exposure to UV light, genetics, and certain medications. Cataract impacts daily activities like driving, reading or recreational activities.
During cataract eye surgery, an ophthalmologist will make a tiny incision in the eye to extract the clouded lens. It is then replaced with an artificial intraocular lens or IOL. IOLs are made of clear plastic and come in various prescriptions to correct vision.
The procedure only takes 10-15 minutes, is done on an outpatient basis, and has an excellent success rate with few complications. For most patients, vision is significantly improved following cataract surgery.
Symptoms of cataracts include:
In some cases, cataracts may be present from birth. Known as congenital cataracts, they can develop before or during fetal development. Early surgery within the first 6 weeks of life typically results in good vision outcomes for infants with this condition.
Here are some of the most popular types of cataract surgery:
Intracapsular cataract surgery involves removing the entire lens and its surrounding capsule through a larger incision. Due to its higher risk of complications compared to advanced techniques, intracapsular surgery is rarely used today.
Phacoemulsification is a type of surgery in which an ultrasonic probe is inserted through a small 2-3mm incision. It uses vibrations to dislodge the cataract and suction to pull out the pieces, enabling the installation of a foldable lens. This precision method results in a minor wound that typically heals without sutures.
FLACS uses a laser to create the incision and soften the cataract instead of manual methods. This requires less phacoemulsification energy and promotes faster healing. The laser can make an arcuate incision to correct astigmatism by shaping the cornea, reducing post-operative glasses dependence. However, FLACS is more costly than traditional techniques.
MECS uses a larger 9-13mm incision to remove the lens and insert an IOL. The increased incision size with MECS increases risks compared to phacoemulsification. However, it remains a common option globally due to its affordability.
MSICS uses a small incision in the shape of a “V" for lens removal during cataract surgery. The incision is narrower externally at 6.5 - 7 mm but wider internally up to 11mm. Studies found that while phacoemulsification may provide better short-term results in the first 3 months post-op, MSICS and phacoemulsification deliver similar long-term outcomes with comparable risks. A key advantage of MSICS is its lower cost compared to phacoemulsification.
For individuals experiencing declining vision as a result of cataract formation, surgical removal provides an effective solution to restore clear sight. No pharmaceutical options have proven capable of improving vision compromised by cataracts.
Following a cataract operation, most patients enjoy better vision. Sharper clarity allows one to see vivid details again with ease. Glare sensitivity is significantly reduced, enabling safer night-time driving. Vibrant colour perception returns as well. In many cases, dependence on glasses also reduces or completely goes away post-surgery.
To ensure a smooth surgical experience, certain preparations may be recommended in the hours and days leading up to cataract removal. Typically, patients are asked to avoid all food and fluids for around 12 hours prior to help reduce risks during anaesthesia.
Your doctor may also suggest temporarily adjusting any medications, especially blood thinners, to minimise potential bleeding issues. Be certain to disclose all supplements and prescriptions, particularly those for conditions like prostate concerns, as certain treatments could interact with the procedure.
Once the surgery is completed, patients are allowed to return home on the day of the procedure. However, as a precaution, it is advisable to make transportation arrangements in advance, as self-driving is prohibited immediately following surgery.
The vision may be impacted initially, so having assistance at home during the first week of cataract surgery recovery is prudent. During this time, doctors often recommend modifying activities that could place undue pressure or strain on the eye, such as bending, heavy lifting or vigorous exercise.
The cataract surgery cost may range from INR 20,000 to INR 50,000 depending on the hospital, surgeon fee, complications, and type of surgery.
Just like any other surgery, cataract surgeries may also pose a few possible risks including:
Note that although cataract eye surgery can help to clear vision, it cannot restore vision lost to other conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy.
In the days following cataract eye surgery, certain self-care measures are advised to facilitate proper healing and minimise the risk of complications.
Cataract eye surgery is one of the most frequently performed eye operations worldwide. Its minimal invasiveness, rapid nature and low-risk profile underscore just how reliable and safe a solution it provides.
While not mandatory, opting for surgery when cataracts begin negatively impacting vision stands to deliver the most benefits. At Care Health Insurance, we recognise cataract surgery as an important medical expense and thus recommend opting for comprehensive family health insurance that provides coverage that helps ensure affordability and accessibility for people from all walks of life.
>> Also Read: What is LASIK Surgery? Know its cost & Treatment
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Published on 21 Sep 2023
Published on 21 Sep 2023
Published on 21 Sep 2023
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