Cataract Surgery : FSA Eligibility
What are cataracts?
Cataracts are a cloudy or opaque area of the normally clear lens of the eye. The vast majority of cataracts develop in individuals over the age of 55, but they can occasionally occur in children and infants and can affect one or both eyes in some cases. Cataracts typically progress very slowly and surgery can be put off for years with the right vision correction methods, but when patients can no longer easily and safely perform daily activities, cataract surgery should be considered (National Eye Institute).
What is cataract surgery?
Surgery to remove cataracts is a relatively simple procedure that is performed by an ophthalmologist in an outpatient setting, so patients can recover from the surgery without having to stay in a hospital. The entire procedure takes under an hour, and uses two primary surgical methods to remove cataracts. First, cataracts can be removed with an ultrasound probe which involves a small incision in the cornea, after which a needle-sized probe is inserted into a lens. This probe will transfer ultrasound waves to break up the cataract and remove the fragments left over. This opening may or may not be used to close the incision and vision should begin improving after a few days.
In less frequent cases, ophthalmologists may choose to remove the entire lens in one piece in a process called an extracapsular cataract extraction that utilizes a larger incision. Surgical tools are used to remove this front capsule of the lens, which will eliminate the cloudy portion of the lens and an artificial lens will be implanted in its place to restore the patient's vision. This method will require stitches during the recovering process. With both cataract surgery methods, patients will visit the eye doctor in the days following the surgery, and they may prescribe eye drops or protective shields to assist in recovery. After several days, most of the discomfort will dissipate and it should be completely healed in eight weeks (American Academy of Opthalmology).