Cataracts affect most people and are usually age-related, although they can affect younger people, children, and even babies. A cataract forms when a build-up of protein occurs, causing the eye’s transparent lens becomes clouded over and blurring the vision.
There is a safe and effective surgical procedure for the removal of cataracts. If you are experiencing symptoms such as cloudy vision, significant glare from bright lights, or difficulty seeing in low light, your eye doctor may recommend intraocular lens implant surgery.
What Is an Intraocular Lens Implant?
An intraocular lens implant is an artificial replacement for your eye’s natural lens. It’s about one-third of the size of a dime and made of clear, flexible plastic. Intraocular lens implants can also be used to correct conditions such as near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia, in addition to fixing the cataract.
Intraocular lens implant surgery is typically done under local anesthetic, though surgeons sometimes offer sedatives to nervous patients. The surgeon makes a small incision in the cornea, the front surface of the eye. They then break up the natural lens and remove it.
The surgeon then implants the intraocular lens, usually in between the cornea and iris, the colored part of the eye. In some cases, the surgeon may implant the lens behind the pupil. After the lens is in place, the surgeon may close the incision with small sutures, but this is not always necessary. The procedure typically takes less than an hour to complete.
There are few risks involved in intraocular lens implant surgery. Redness or swelling is common, and some patients notice slight bleeding. Serious side effects occur very rarely. These can include infection, a detached retina, vision loss, or dislocation of the lens implant. If any of these occur, contact your eye doctor immediately for medical assistance.
The Recovery Process
After the surgery, the ophthalmologist will cover your eye with a patch that you’ll need to wear for a day or two. You won’t be able to drive yourself home, so your eye doctor will recommend you have a friend or family member take you home.
You may be sensitive to light and experience discomfort in the eye. You’ll be given medication to make you more comfortable, as well as eye drops to prevent inflammation and infection. The recovery period can last anywhere from two to four weeks.
Patients recovering from cataract surgery should avoid bending down, bumping into things, sneezing, vomiting, or anything else that could put pressure on or cause trauma to the eye.
The Bottom Line
Intraocular lens implant surgery is a safe, effective way to restore your vision. If you’re suffering from any symptoms of cataracts, have your eyes examined by a qualified eye doctor, who can discuss your options with you and refer you to a specialist.