recovery from cataract surgery melbourne

Recovery from Cataract Surgery – Tips to Minimise the Possible Risks

As cataracts are found to be a natural part of ageing, cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in the Western world. While cataract surgery procedures are considered to be highly safe and effective, as with any medical operation, there is always a risk of a complication or adverse event. Some of these events may be entirely out of the control of both yourself and the eye surgeon.

However, during the cataract surgery recovery period, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of an adverse complication. Keep reading to learn about how you can make your recovery from cataract surgery as stress and complication-free as possible.

 

Tips to Optimise Your Recovery from Cataract Surgery

After your cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will talk you through his or her preferred post-operative instructions, as well as what red flag symptoms to be aware of. Always follow your ophthalmologist’s directions. 

 

 

These are some general tips on how to make your cataract surgery recovery as uneventful as possible, and minimise any risks. 

 

  1. Use your prescription eye drops as directed.

After your cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will give you a prescription for an antibiotic eye drop and one or two anti-inflammatory drops. Instil these drops as you’ve been prescribed them, whether it’s four times a day or twice a day, and for as long as you’ve been directed. Typically, your ophthalmologist may tell you to use the drops until the bottle runs empty, or for 4 weeks. 

If you’re having difficulties instilling the medications and more drops miss your eye than get in, talk to your ophthalmologist about how to overcome this. You may need to ask a family member to help you instil them or use a device that makes it easier to get them into your eye. Similarly, if you think you’re having a reaction to any of the medications, such as they make your eye red or irritated, talk to your ophthalmologist about any possible alternatives. Don’t cease the medications on your own accord. 

 

  1. Protect your eye from foreign particles and accidental trauma. 

Your eye is in a vulnerable state during the cataract surgery recovery period. As it heals, it is more prone to opportunistic bacterial or parasitic infections, as well as more fragile to injury from physical trauma. Take care to avoid situations that put your eye at risk of catching any foreign material in it, such as going outdoors on a windy day, or entering dirty or dusty environments, including the attic of your home or a construction site. Foreign substances can also include cosmetics, cleansers, moisturisers, shampoos, and soaps. Try to avoid any of these around your eye area. Another source of potential infection is unsterile water. Although these may not be the first things that come to mind, you may want to stay away from the beach, pools, spas and saunas, and hot tubs during your recovery from cataract surgery.

It is important that you take a break from any hobbies or activities that may result in your eye accidentally getting bumped or poked. Such activities include gardening, contact sports, and even rough play with your pets or children. 

After your cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will place a protective eye shield over your operated eye. He or she may instruct you to wear it for the first 24 hours and then overnight as you sleep for the following week or two to keep you from accidentally rubbing your eye. 

 

  1. Let your body rest and recover.

Although your vision may be feeling bright and clear soon after your cataract surgery, your body is still recovering from a medical operation. Take a break and let yourself rest.

tips recovery from cataract surgery melbourneAvoid strenuous activities, which include vigorous house chores and even carrying shopping bags. There are some actions that have the potential to raise the pressure inside the eye, such as bending over or forceful coughing. If you can, try to avoid these movements as your eye is healing.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving, let someone else drive you to any necessary appointments, or use a taxi service. While your vision may feel reasonably clear not long into your recovery from cataract surgery, it still needs to be checked to ensure you meet the driving vision requirements in your state before you get back behind the wheel. 

 

  1. Attend your review appointments.

You will be scheduled a few follow-up appointments during your cataract surgery recovery period to ensure your eye is healing as anticipated. Often these will take place a day or two after your cataract surgery, one week after that, and about a month after that. If at any point in between your appointments you feel your eye or vision is not quite right, contact your ophthalmologist or local optometrist without delay. Red flag symptoms you should look out for include:

These are not typically part of the normal healing process after routine cataract surgery and should be followed up immediately.

 

Call us today on (03) 9070 3580.

 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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What is a Cataract & When Do You Need the Treatment?

A cataract is a fairly common finding during routine eye examinations. In fact, as early and even moderate cataracts cause no noticeable vision problems, it is possible to have one without realising. Fortunately, if you have an undiagnosed cataract with no accompanying vision problems, there’s no need to rush into cataract surgery. While tens of thousands of cataract surgery procedures are performed around the world each day, cataract surgery is typically considered necessary only when your cataracts progress to a level that bothers you and hinders your daily tasks. So, exactly what is a cataract?

 

What is a Cataract?

Cataracts are a haze or opacity of the crystalline lens of the eye. At birth, a normally developed lens is transparent, allowing light to pass through to form vision. However, as we age, this lens gradually loses its clarity and transparency, resulting in an age-related cataract. While this process is still not fully understood, doctors believe that oxidative stress, which accumulates with age, changes the structure of the fibres of the lens such that light can no longer pass through as easily. 

There are three types of age-related cataracts, which are also known as senile cataracts:

  • Nuclear sclerosis. The nucleus of the lens refers to its central area. As nuclear sclerosis develops, this core becomes cloudy and turns a brownish-yellow colour. Nuclear sclerotic cataracts can result in vision problems such as a decrease in clarity or foggy vision, altered colour perception, decreased contrast sensitivity, and your prescription becoming more short-sighted (myopic).
  • Cortical cataracts. The cortex is the layer of lens fibres that surround the nucleus. During the development of a cortical cataract, the opacities in this area appear like opaque white or grey spokes, radiating from the edge of the lens inward. Cortical cataracts are often responsible for an increase in glare sensitivity, which many people find impacts their comfort when driving at night-time. Depending on how close toward the centre of your lens the spokes extend, they may impair the clarity of your sight. Cortical cataracts may also be responsible for causing your prescription to become more long-sighted (hyperopic).
  • Posterior subcapsular cataracts. The outer layer of the lens enclosing the lens cortex is known as the capsule. Posterior subcapsular cataracts form beneath this capsule at the back surface of the lens, appearing like a dense plaque. Often this type of cataract can cause the most debilitating vision problems due to its location. 

types what is a cataract melbourneEarly to moderate cataracts may be adequately managed with a change in prescription to your glasses or contact lenses. However, some people may find frequently updating their glasses to be financially unviable, and instead, opt to undergo cataract surgery sooner rather than later. 

Cataract surgery is indicated when the symptoms of your cataracts reach the point where you can no longer comfortably participate in whatever activities you need to accomplish and your sight cannot be sufficiently improved with an updated prescription. This may look different for different individuals.

For example, a taxi driver who works a night shift will likely seek cataract surgery earlier than a driver who only works during daylight conditions, even if their cataracts are at exactly the same stage. An interior designer who relies on accurate colour vision may be more bothered by subtle changes to their colour perception compared to an accountant, leading them to undergo cataract surgery even if their sight is otherwise still sharp.

 

What is a Cataract Caused By?

In addition to increasing age, there are other potential causes of a cataract, which may necessitate treatment with cataract surgery. These include:

  • Corticosteroid medications, whether taken orally through inhalers or tablets or administered directly to the eye through topical drops or injections
  • Smoking, which has been linked with earlier development of cataract and an increased likelihood of requiring cataract surgery
  • Certain systemic diseases, such as diabetes
  • Congenital health conditions, including a metabolic disease called galactosaemia
  • Trauma, which may involve physical trauma or electrocution
  • A history of inflammatory eye diseases, such as uveitis.
  • As a side effect of certain eye procedures, such as retinal detachment surgery
  • Excessive UV exposure, which can accelerate the development of cataracts

 

While some of these factors are unavoidable, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing a cataract or at least delay its growth. 

  • Cease smoking
  • If you are prescribed steroid medications, your doctor should advise you to monitor your vision with an eye care professional. If you feel your vision deteriorating, speak to your prescribing doctor about changing your dosage or to an alternative medication
  • Use UV protection in the form of a hat and sunglasses when you’re outdoors, particularly if you live in high UV exposure areas, such as Australia. If you work in an industry that involves UV exposure, such as welding, you should always wear your protective equipment.
  • Manage any systemic health conditions as well as possible. Keeping your blood glucose levels low if you have diabetes can help to reduce your risk of developing a diabetic cataract. 

 

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is considered a safe and effective procedure and is the only definitive way of treating a visually significant cataract. Most uncomplicated cataract operations take as little as 15 to 20 minutes in a day surgery theatre. You will go home soon after your operation with a list of cataract aftercare instructions.

If you have further questions about what is a cataract or need guidance regarding cataract treatment, the best person to talk to is your optometrist or ophthalmologist. 

 

Call us now on (03) 9070 3580 for a consultation.

 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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