If you’ve been diagnosed with cataracts, you’ll eventually need to have them removed in order to restore clear vision. Although cataract surgery is intended to provide clear vision permanently, it cannot prevent vision changes from other eye conditions.
How Cataract Surgery Works
Cataracts typically worsen gradually. When cataracts begin affecting your vision and quality of life, your doctor will recommend cataract surgery.
Removing your natural lens where the cataract is and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens, or IOL, is the only way to restore clear vision once it’s affected by cataracts. Cataract surgery is safe and effective.
During the procedure, your surgeon makes a small incision in your cornea, the transparent dome at the front of your eye, to access your natural lens where the cataract is. Next, they will break up the cloudy cataract lens into tiny pieces using ultrasound waves.
The tiny fragments of your natural lens are then removed from your eye through gentle suction. Using the same incision, the surgeon inserts an artificial intraocular lens or IOL that rests on the capsule at the back of the lens.
The incision often does not require stitches and will heal naturally during your recovery period. Cataract surgery only takes about fifteen to twenty-five minutes.
It is an outpatient procedure, so you will be able to return home the same day. Expect to visit your eye doctor the following day so your eye and vision health can be closely monitored during recovery.
Cataract Surgery Complications
Your natural lens is replaced with a synthetic lens made of durable materials like silicone and acrylic. These lenses are artificial, so a cataract cannot form in them.
However, you may develop scar tissue on the back of your new lens, which is called posterior capsular opacification, or PCO. PCO, also frequently called secondary cataracts, is a common yet highly treatable cataract surgery complication.
You may develop secondary cataracts weeks, months, or years after your cataract procedure. Most people think that their cataracts have returned because it causes similar symptoms to cataracts like:
- Blurry vision
- Halos and glares
- Decreased contrast sensitivity
- Reduced color vision
How Secondary Cataracts Form
The artificial lens that replaces your natural cataract lens is implanted into the posterior lens capsule, which is a bag-like structure found behind your iris and your pupil. When your cataract surgeon removes your natural lens, some epithelial cells can remain in the capsule.
With time, these cells start to clump together around the capsule of the artificial lens. This clouds the capsule and prevents light from reaching the retina at the back of your eye, similar to what happens with cataracts.
Treating Secondary Cataracts
Thankfully, treatment for PCO or secondary cataracts is quick and easy. To remove PCO, your eye doctor will perform a laser procedure called a YAG laser capsulotomy.
It’s a quick procedure that takes less than ten minutes to complete.
Your eye doctor will start by applying anesthetic drops to make you more comfortable, and dilation drops to widen your pupil.
Then using the YAG laser, your eye surgeon will make a precise incision in the lens capsule. Then, they will use the laser to remove any scar tissue.
This will allow light to pass through once again to reach the retina, restoring clear vision. You’ll likely notice vision improvement later on the same day.
Don’t Live with Poor Vision
Cataracts shouldn’t stop you from living your best life. The experienced doctors at Colorado Eye Consultants can restore your vision so you can get back to doing the things you love.
Are you experiencing decreased vision due to cataracts? Schedule a cataract evaluation at Colorado Eye Consultants in Littleton, CO, today!