After determining the interest of a cataract operation with your ophthalmologist, the latter will give you his recommendations to best prepare you for the operation. In particular, he may ask you for various things:
- Stop working for at least two days for the procedure and one day to recover before resuming your usual work schedules.
- Arrange for someone to take you to the hospital or surgical center and take you home. The whole process, from check-in to check-out, takes around three hours. You may also need to be driven the day after the operation to pick up the medications you will need and get to the follow-up visit.
- Eat only a light breakfast or go on an empty stomach before the operation, as advised by your eye doctor. Generally, patients should not consume alcoholic beverages for at least 24 hours before surgery.
- Take a shower and wash your hair on the day of the operation so that the surgical environment is as clean as possible. Patients should also wear clean, comfortable clothing and avoid applying makeup to the eyes.
During cataract surgery
Although any surgery involves risks, cataract surgery is very effective and generally very safe. Most patients do not experience any pain or discomfort during the procedure. In addition, thanks to recent advances in science, general anesthesia is no longer required – only regional and / or local anesthetic will be used with the help of cataract surgery instruments set.
The procedure may vary slightly from practitioner to practitioner, but generally cataract surgery is as follows:
- The operating room is a sterile environment, treated to prevent infection, just like any other major surgery.
- After applying the topical anesthetic to your eye, you will be able to hear the sound of the instruments and the voices of the members of the surgical team, but you probably will not be able to see them.
- A nurse will give you an IV and connect you to a heart rate monitor. A field will be placed around your face so that only the eye to be operated on is visible.
- The surgeon will make a small incision in the cornea and use a small probe to split and remove the cataract, before inserting the intraocular lens. In most cases, the incision is so small that it does not need to be closed with stitches. When the surgeon inserts the artificial intraocular lens (IOL) at the end of the procedure, the light from the microscope can become very intense. At any time, if you experience pain, report it to the surgeon.
- Once the cataract operation is finished, the surgeon protects the eye with a bandage or an eye cover. In many cases, the dressing can be removed after a few hours. After a short recovery period, the patient can be taken home.
After cataract surgery
Each patient’s experience undergoing cataract surgery is unique, but the different situations described below can arise after the procedure. Always ask your ophthalmologist for more details and follow their postoperative instructions.
Right after cataract surgery
- You may feel dizzy due to the local anesthesia; it is a normal phenomenon which disappears quite quickly.
- Your ophthalmologist can put antibiotic drops in your eye to prevent infection and give you anti-inflammatory drops to limit swelling.
- Your doctor may prescribe medication and give you instructions for eye care. A follow-up appointment will be made before your departure and sunglasses can be provided for the return.
- When you get home, you should relax and let your caregiver administer the medication. You will not be allowed to drive until the ophthalmologist gives you permission.
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eye and do not remove the protection. The eye may be tender, or you may feel it is scratched for a few days. You may notice a glare or a halo, a circular lens flare, or a hazy ring of light around car headlights or other bright objects. It will go away over time.
- You can resume your normal daily activities, except driving, within the first 24 hours, unless otherwise specified. Avoid lifting anything that weighs more than 7 kg as this can increase intraocular pressure.
- Wear the eye cover at night, and if possible, avoid sleeping on the side that has been operated on.
- The next day, see your ophthalmologist for a check-up.
- Do not wear eye makeup until your ophthalmologist tells you to.
- If you are in good health, you should be able to resume physical activity at a sustained level after a week.
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