Cataract Surgery in One Eye Only (or Both)?

Can You Get Cataracts in Both Eyes?

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Cataract is an age-related condition which afflicts almost everyone as we age. In most cases, cataracts affect both eyes but they may be asymmetrical – more in one eye than the other.

Symptomatic cataract can be treated with cataract surgery. This involves removal of the opaque lens and replacing it by artificial lens. It is usually done to improve vision or relieve pain.

Cataract surgery is performed first on the eye which has more visual loss due to cataract and then the second eye is operated after some months or years.

When Is Cataract Surgery Necessary?

If you’re having trouble seeing clearly because of cataracts, your best bet is to get them removed surgically so they don’t affect your day-to-day life any longer. If there’s no other way to treat your symptoms, cataract surgery will help you see better again.

What Happens During Cataract Surgery?

During cataract surgery, the surgeon removes the cataractous lens from inside the eye. Then he replaces it with an artificial lens that helps restore clear vision.

The procedure takes about 15-30 minutes. You’ll probably have a local anaesthetic injected just adjacent to your eye before the operation begins. You won’t feel anything while the doctor makes his incisions.

After the incisions are made, the surgeon inserts an instrument called a phacoemulsifier through the incision. The phacoemulsifier breaks up the lens into small fragments so it can be removed. Once all the lens has been removed, the surgeon places the new artificial lens in its place.

intraocular lens

You should wear sunglasses for several days following the surgery. Your eyes will heal quickly and you shouldn’t notice much discomfort. After the surgery, you may experience blurred vision for a few weeks. But this will pass.

Simultaneous Bilateral Cataract Surgeries

This is where both eyes are operated at the same sitting. If there is no difference in the severity of cataract in both eyes, it is better to do them simultaneously. However, this is not always possible for various reasons.

In which scenarios, cataract surgery of both eyes is done at the same time?

A: Cataract surgery in both eyes together will save you from having to undergo two operations with an intervening period of recovery.

B. When both eyes have similar degree of opacification, it is advisable to perform cataract surgery on both eyes at the same sitting. But, if there is a significant difference between the eyes such as one eye has severe opacification and another eye has mild opacification, then it is better to operate the eye with severe opacification first.

Simultaneous cataract surgery is when both eyes are operated at the same sitting. In this case, you need to be aware that there is a risk of postoperative inflammation and infection in both eyes. However, this is less likely to happen.

If the patient undergoes cataract surgery under general anaesthesia for any reason, bilateral simultaneous cataract surgery is preferred to avoid the risks of general anaesthesia for the second time for the other eye. It should be noted that cataract surgery are mostly done under local anaesthesia (injection or eye drops).

Sequential Bilateral Cataract Surgeries

The patient undergoes cataract surgery in one eye and waits for some months before undergoing the same procedure in the other eye.

Why do I need to have cataract surgery done on one eye only?

A. If you can see well with glasses or contacts in one eye, then it is not necessary for you to have cataract operations in both eyes. You can continue using your glasses or contact lenses in the better eye and go for surgery in the eye with poor vision.

B. If you have any coexisting eye condition which can make you susceptible to post-operative infection in the operated eyes, it would be a wise decision to get operated only in one eye first. This will prevent possible infection in both eyes simultaneously and going blind completely, howsoever small risk there may be.

How Can I Get Started With Cataract Surgery in Only One Eye?

The first step towards getting started with cataract surgery in just one eye is to schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist. He/she will discuss your options with you and help you decide whether you should proceed with cataract surgery on one eye or both eyes at the same time.

Once you make up your mind, he/she will give you more information about the procedure and answer any questions you might have.

When Will My Second Eye Be Operated?

If you choose to have cataract surgery in one eye only, then your second eye can wait for a while before receiving the surgery. The gap can be a few month to a few years, depending on the progression of cataract in the second eye.

How Long Can Cataract Surgery Be Postponed?

There is no fixed rule about how long you should wait before undergoing cataract surgery on your second eye. But generally speaking, it’s recommended to do so when the patient has good health and clear vision in his/her first eye.

Why Many Eye Surgeons Prefer to Operate One Eye at a Time

Surgery may be performed to remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial lens. This procedure is called phacoemulsification.

Many doctors perform this operation as a single-eye procedure. Single-eye procedures are less expensive than two-eye procedures because they require fewer resources. They also have shorter operating times.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Cataract Surgery on One Eye?

It takes approximately 1-2 week to recover fully from cataract surgery. During this period, you may experience blurred vision and sensitivity to light. Your doctor prescribes anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops to reduce the inflammation and prevent infection respectively.

How Soon Will My Vision Improve After Surgery?

After having had surgery to remove your natural lenses (cataracts), you might experience blurry vision for several weeks afterward. You will notice an improvement in your eyesight within the first few weeks after starting the treatment. About 90% of people who undergo surgery for cataracts report seeing better afterwards.

After having had cataract surgery, it’s likely that you will continue to require eyeglasses or contact lenses. You will need to purchase another set of glasses if your prescription changes. If you had LASIK surgery in the past, you might be required to repeat it or get new lenses or contact lenses.

What Is the Most Common Complication of Cataract Surgery?

Post-operative complications include:

1. Infection – In rare cases, the eye may become infected after cataract surgery.

An endophthalmitis is an inflammatory condition of the inner surface of the eyeball. It may be due to bacterial or fungal infections. It may be a possibility after any type of intraocular surgery, including cataract surgery, but there’s no guarantee they won’t happen.

2. Inflammation – Sometimes the eye becomes inflamed after cataract surgery and needs treatment.

3. Dry Eyes – Some patients suffer from dry eyes after cataract surgery.

Vision Imbalance After Cataract Surgery

If only one eye undergoes cataract surgery, vision imbalance may cause some distress to the person because he/she would see well with one eye and will have cloudy or blurry vision with the other eye. This problem can be solved by performing cataract surgery on the other eye soon.

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