At Swagel Wootton Eye Institute, we go to great lengths to ensure our patients have all of the information and context they need to make informed decisions about their eye health. Below are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about cataracts and cataract surgery.
What are cataracts?
Our natural lenses are comprised of proteins that break down and clump together as we age. These protein clusters — what we know as cataracts — eventually cause an individual’s vision to become blurry.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
Cataracts develop so slowly that many patients aren’t even aware they have them until their symptoms become too obvious to ignore. These symptoms may include cloudy vision, “halos” appearing around bright lights, sensitivity to bright lights and glare, and difficulty seeing at night or performing daily tasks. Some patients may also notice that they must frequently visit their eye doctor for a new glasses or contact lens prescription.
How are cataracts treated?
Surgery is currently the only option for treating cataracts. That said, due to the slowness with which cataracts develop, many patients choose to forego immediate surgical intervention in favor of a stronger glasses or contact lens prescription. Cataract surgery is typically performed when stronger prescriptions are no longer enough to allow patients to perform everyday tasks like reading or driving a car.
Patients with age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy may opt to receive cataract surgery sooner rather than later, as the procedure will enable them to receive additional treatment for their more serious conditions.
What does cataract surgery entail?
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that begins with an eye surgeon numbing the nerves in and around your eye with a local anesthetic. Once the anesthetic has taken effect, the surgeon will make a small incision and remove your cataract-clouded lens. The natural lens is then replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic, silicone, or acrylic, and the incision is closed. The entire procedure takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. During the recovery process, the IOL fuses with the eye and becomes an integral part of the eye’s structure.
Is cataract surgery safe?
Cataract surgery is one of the safest vision correction procedures available, and more than three million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the U.S. alone. Like all surgeries, cataract surgery presents a minor risk of bleeding and infection. Retinal detachment — a rarer but more serious complication — is also possible. Your eye care specialist will review these risks with you during your consultation and recommend any precautions you should take to help ensure a smooth procedure.
How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?
It typically takes approximately four weeks to recover from cataract surgery. During this time, you may experience blurry vision as your eye adjusts to the replacement lens. This is completely normal and will fade quickly. Your doctor will also ask you to wear an eye patch in the days immediately following your surgery to prevent you from unintentionally rubbing your eye as it recovers.
It’s best to avoid lifting heavy objects or bending from the waist during the recovery process. Patients are also not allowed to drive until approved to do so by their doctor. (All patients are required to get a ride home from their surgery.) If you experience severe pain or feel that you aren’t recovering according to schedule, contact your Swagel Wootton Eye Institute specialist immediately.
Will my vision return to normal?
Every type of replacement lens will eliminate cataracts and improve your vision. However, depending on the lens you choose, you may still need to wear glasses after surgery. It’s important to talk through your IOL options with your doctor to determine which is best for your unique vision goals.
How much does cataract surgery cost?
There is no standard price for cataract surgery. The cost of the procedure will vary depending on the type of replacement lens you choose, the surgical techniques utilized during your procedure, and the timing of your operation.
Patients with private health insurance or Medicare can typically have all or part of their procedure covered, but it’s important to contact your insurer to identify whether your cataract surgery will be covered. At Swagel Wootton Eye Institute, we’ll work with you to develop an affordable financing plan that meets your unique budgetary needs.
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For fastest service during the hours of 8 am-5 pm Monday-Friday, call us at 480-372-2616. Otherwise, fill out the form below to schedule your consultation.