Cataracts are among the oldest conditions known to humankind. It happens when the lens on either of your eyes becomes both stiff and opaque, milky white instead of transparent. While heredity seems to play some role in the onset of cataracts, the current consensus seems to lean more towards oxidative stress (aging) as its primary cause.
The condition’s progression seems to be utterly unique. It’ grows very slow in some patients, in others, it’s swift. The one thing we seem to know about them is that they can make you go blind and that they’re a lot more frequent in diabetes patients.
The first symptom is usually seeing halos around things, especially brighter things. Ophthalmologists are the specialists who are trained to deal with this condition, and some of them are licensed to perform cataract eye surgery.
Cataracts are curable, but the only effective treatment is surgery. It’s a fast, safe and straightforward surgery in which patients don’t even lose consciousness. Patients are advised to wait until the cataract has matured in full but if you want to avoid all the hassle of going blind you can elect to have the procedure at any stage.
Because cataracts take such a long time to develop, it’s never an emergency procedure but rather something planned for weeks if not months. Most patients are back home just an hour after the surgery and complications are exceedingly rare.
However safe and comfortable cataract surgery is, patients can’t let their guards down. Taking good care just after surgery is critical to avoid complications or, even worse, a second visit to the OR. These are the preventative measures advised to cataract recovering patients:
● Don’t even sneeze. No, it’s not a joke. It’s all about avoiding sudden head moves that could mix up things inside your eyes and delay the healing process. A recovery patient will even be prescribed with coughing and sneezing inhibitors so that this is not a problem at all.
● Antiemetics. Very much like sneezes and coughs, nausea and vomiting can shake up things inside the eyes because of the sudden movements and interfere with healing.
● Stool softeners. Yes, it sounds weird, but every strain your body does is felt in the eyes, sooner or later. And when you’re recovering from cataracts, you need to give your eyes all the rest they need to heal. Drinking plenty of water can help to keep the bowels moving easily. Milled flaxseeds added to yogurt or cereal can help to soften the stools naturally too.
● Sleep on the correct side. You’ll not be allowed to sleep on the side in which you were operated. This is also about keeping your recovering eye free from any kind of stress.
Do’s and don’ts
There are also a few essential do’s and don’t you should be aware of and follow to the best of your ability.
● Avoid swimming for at least six weeks.
● Use your shield, or your sunglasses or some eye protection when you are outdoors.
● Do read, watch TV, and use your computer.
● Use your shield when you wash your hair.
● Bathe and keep your hygiene as usual.
● Use painkillers if you need them.
● Use your eyeshield in bed for at least a week.
● Keep everything very easy and calm for the first two days, at least.
● Use your drops as instructed.
● Rub your eye.
● Allow any external substances into your eye (soap or shampoo, for instance)
● Fly without consulting your doctor.
● Use any eye makeup for at least a month.
● Exercise too hard in any way.
● Drive until your doctor says you can.
When to get help
Your eye won’t feel great for a few days, which is normal. Just remember somebody spent 20 full minutes poking at it, cutting it down and doing painful things. Your eye is swollen and needs recovery.
This means that you are bound to feel some strange things. But some of them are normal so you should know what to expect. This way you will not stress yourself over normal things and know when it’s the right time to remain calm and when to worry and go back to your doctor.
It’s normal for your eye to be all red, to have double or blurred vision, to be watering and to feel grittiness. It lasts for a few days only.
However, there are situations in which you need to ask for help. If your pain or your stickiness are getting too intense; or if your vision is decreasing, then you need to get help as soon as possible. But even if you need help, know that complications from cataract surgery are infrequent indeed, and they are all treatable and curable.
Cataract – An infographic by GeriatricNursing.org
Author bio: Rebecca Evans is a geriatric nurse who likes to help people by getting good information out there as she sees a lot of misinformation online.