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Understanding Refractive Cataract Surgery: A Guide for Patients

Cataract is a common eye disorder that affects millions of people around the world. In a nutshell, cataract is an opacification of the eye’s natural lens, which causes blurred vision and the inability to see clearly. It is a progressive condition that can eventually lead to complete vision loss if left untreated. Fortunately, it is treatable with surgery,

Your ophthalmologist will recommend surgery when the condition keeps you from doing things you want or need to do. During surgery, the cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a new artificial lens, or intraocular lens (IOL), to improve vision.

Following standard cataract surgery, patients often require corrective eyeglasses to fix refractive errors. But as technologies have advanced, treatment options in eye care have expanded, giving patients now the option to choose refractive cataract surgery.

Refractive cataract surgery is an elective add-on to the standard cataract procedure. Its goal is to remove the cataract and to simultaneously correct any refractive errors the patient might have. This is achieved by using the femtosecond laser to improve accuracy of the surgery, as well as premium intraocular lenses that correct the eyes’ refractive error.

What Are Refractive Errors

Refractive errors are very common. They are vision problems that occur when the shape of the eye keeps light from focusing correctly on the retina. People with refractive errors may experience halos around lights, double vision, blurry vision, and headaches.

The most common types of refractive errors are:

  • Myopia: Nearsightedness (inability to see objects in the distance)
  • Hyperopia: Farsightedness (inability to see close objects)
  • Presbyopia: Age-related loss of close-up vision
  • Astigmatism: Irregular focus that may affect near and distant objects

When there is no cataract present, refractive errors can be treated successfully with LASIK and PRK eye surgery.

What Happens During Refractive Cataract Surgery?

The actual surgery itself is quick and painless. During the procedure, your surgeon will use a femtosecond laser to soften the cataract and remove the obstructed lens.

Then, a small incision is made and an advanced multifocal IOL is implanted and placed behind the iris. The multifocal intraocular lens provides focused, clear vision at various distances — including up close and far away.  With this type of lens, the patient won’t need to wear glasses or contact lenses anymore.

What To Expect After Surgery

After surgery, most people can expect their vision to improve immediately or within a few days. You may experience some mild irritation and/or foreign body sensation for a short time afterward, and be prepared to experience colors brighter than before.

Any discomfort or soreness should lessen after a few days, but it can take up to 6 weeks for a full recovery. Your doctor will recommend that you apply antibiotic eye drops and anti-inflammatory medications to prevent the risk of infection, eye pressure, or inflammation.

Refractive cataract surgery can be a life-changing procedure for those that wish to remove cataract and eliminate dependency on prescription glasses or contact lenses. If you’re suffering from cataracts, speak with a reputable ophthalmologist to find out if refractive cataract surgery might be a good choice for you.

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