Modern advancements in cataract technology are bringing patients more satisfaction than ever before. But in order to achieve the best possible results, the surface of the eye must be in the best possible health. Eye doctors call this “optimizing the ocular surface.”
A healthy eye is extremely important when it comes to a successful cataract surgery outcome. If the surface of the eye is not in optimal condition, it can affect the measurements your eye doctor will take to determine the correct power for the new lens. Cataract surgery involves removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with a synthetic, artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens, or IOL. Determining the correct power for the IOL is critical for good postoperative vision.
Here are some important steps you can take to prepare your eyes for cataract surgery.
Manage dry eye before cataract surgery
Dry eye is a common eye condition that occurs when your eyes do not produce enough quality tears and don’t provide adequate lubrication.
If your doctor determines that you have dry eye, he/she will probably recommend treating it prior to surgery. You may be prescribed artificial tears or other topical medications. Using eye drops and other medications as directed is important in order to improve the ocular surface prior to cataract surgery.
Stop wearing contact lenses before cataract surgery
Your doctor will probably instruct you to stop wearing contact lenses for 1 – 4 weeks prior to cataract surgery. It is very important to follow your doctor’s instructions. Contact lenses alter the shape of the surface of the cornea, a surface that is extremely important to measure for proper IOL selection. If you wear hard lenses, you may be asked to stop wearing them longer than someone who wears soft lenses. This is because it takes longer for the corneal surface to return to its natural shape after wearing hard lenses. Prior to surgery, it is important to use glasses instead of contact lenses as recommended by your eye doctor.
Additionally, leading up to the period of time you remove your contact lenses, be sure to not leave them in past the recommended time. Wearing contact lenses for too long can cause eye infections and permanent damage to the cornea.
Remove all makeup before cataract surgery
On the day of your surgery, do not apply any makeup – to the eyes or any other part of the face. This includes facial lotions, creams, and aftershave. Before surgery, simply wash your face with soap and water. Bacteria that enters the eye usually comes from the eyelids or eyelashes, so it’s important to keep them (and the surrounding area) as clean as possible. Your doctor will probably prep your eyelids with an anti-bacterial solution before surgery, but doing your part and leaving the makeup at home will help.
Use eye drops as directed leading up to cataract surgery
To reduce the risk of complications, you will be prescribed antibiotic and/or anti-inflammatory eye drops leading up to the surgery. You may also be instructed to stop taking certain medications before the procedure to be safe. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions to reduce the risk of eye infection.
Treat blepharitis prior to cataract surgery
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. It usually occurs when tiny oil glands near the base of the eyelid become clogged, but it can also be caused by allergies and other conditions. It can cause red, watery eyes, a gritty burning sensation in the eye, swollen or itchy eyelids, and crusted eyelashes. It is important to treat blepharitis prior to cataract surgery.
If you have been diagnosed with blepharitis, your doctor may prescribe medications –eyedrops or ointments – to control inflammation and fight infection. Additionally, keeping your eyes very clean is helpful. Using a clean washcloth or cotton-tipped applicator, regularly clean the eyelid with warm water and baby shampoo to wash away any oil or debris at the base of your eyelashes.
Taking good care of your eyes before cataract surgery and following your doctor’s recommendations are essential for great postoperative vision!
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