If I have a cataract, do I need surgery? This is one of the most common questions asked of our Elmquist Eye Group cataract surgeons near Estero, Florida. Let’s explore this topic and other common questions.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a cloudy area that forms on the lens of the eye. Cataracts form very slowly and usually develop in people age 55 or older. Cataracts are caused by a natural protein breakdown in the eye; the breakdown occurs with age and when the clouded lens becomes significant enough to interfere with vision, surgery is required to remove the cataract.
Lots of folks ask our surgeons whether they can prevent a cataract. Because cataracts are a normal part of aging, there is no way to prevent them, but you can take measures to slow a cataract’s progression. Always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of our bright Florida sun, and make lifestyle changes like quitting smoking. Both can slow a cataract’s development, however surgery to remove and replace the lens will eventually be needed.
It is important for patients to know that not everyone who has a cataract will need surgery right away. Cataracts progress very slowly, and in the early stages, most patients don’t even know they have one. This is perhaps the best reason to choose Elmquist Eye Care for your eye health needs. Our team can monitor the progression of your cataract. If you have slight vision changes, we can likely correct your issues with prescription glasses or contact changes.
What is surgery like?
When your cataract begins to significantly interfere with daily activities like driving or reading, we will likely recommend surgery. The American Optometric Association describes two types of cataract surgery. Small-incision cataract surgery (SICS) is more commonly performed and involves the surgeon making a small corneal incision and using an ultrasound instrument to break up the cataract, a process called phacoemulsification. The surgeon then implants an artificial lens to replace the natural lens. The corneal incision heals on its own with no stitches required.
The other form of cataract surgery is called extracapsular surgery and involves the surgeon making a larger corneal incision. The lens is removed in one piece and replaced with a new artificial lens.
In both cases, you will come in for a pre-surgery consultation where our surgical team will take a detailed medical history, including noting the medications you are taking. In certain cases, we may ask that you discontinue certain medications on or before your surgery day. We may be able to recommend some alternatives as well. We usually require patients to have no food or drink for several hours before surgery. Above all, we will discuss your expectations for the surgery and answer any questions you may have.
Cataract surgery is short, sweet and above all safe. Your surgery will conclude in a very short time, and we will monitor you for about an hour to check your progress and recovery from anesthesia. After that, a family member or friend will drive you home, and we strongly suggest that you rest for the remainder of the day to give your eyes a chance to heal.
If you suspect you have a cataract or that you need cataract surgery, schedule an appointment at Elmquist Eye Group. Our cataract surgeons near Estero, Florida are highly trained experts that will be with you every step of the way before, during and after your surgery.