Commonly known as ocular surgery, eye surgery includes surgical procedures on the eye or the area immediately surrounding it, including the eyelids. Performed by an ophthalmologist, eye surgery addresses a specific ocular ailment or is designed to improve the sharpness and clarity of vision.
Types of Eye Surgery
: This operation is the most common kind of ocular surgery. Cataracts
are cloud-like obstructions that develop in the eye's lens and can impair vision or even lead to blindness. Though there are different varieties of cataract surgeries, the most frequently performed is phacoemulsification, which involves taking out the lens via a tiny incision and an ultrasound procedure, and replacing it with an artificial lens, usually an intraocular lens (IOL). Generally the operation is brief (15-30 minutes) and utilizes a local anesthetic, with the incision so small that it often doesn't require any sort of suture.
Laser eye surgery
: Vision problems such as farsightedness (hyperopia) and nearsightedness (myopia) are corrected in this procedure by reshaping the cornea, the curved and clear front of the eye, with laser technology. A kind of refractive surgery, laser eye surgery exists in different forms, though the most widely known technique is LASIK, which stands for laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis. In this operation, a small incision creates a flap that can be folded back to allow a laser to remodel the cornea. Lasers are used in many other eye surgeries, including laser photocoagulation, in which lasers are used to seal retinal tears and treat retinal detachment; and laser traberculoplasty for glaucoma surgery.
Eye muscle surgery
: Also called extraocular or strabismus surgery, this operation is performed more than one million times a year, making it America's third most prevalent eye surgery. The procedure's goal is to correct eye misalignment, commonly known as crossed eyes, by either tightening or loosening certain muscles. Sometimes an adjustable suture is made to allow for subtle alterations following the operation.
: A disease involving heightened intraocular pressure (IOP), glaucoma affects the optic nerve and can lead to the loss of eyesight. There are various kinds of glaucoma operations, with the specific procedure dictated by the needs of the patient. The most widely performed surgeries are trabeculectomy, also known as filtration surgery, and laser trabeculoplasty, which both focus on draining excess fluid from the eye. The latter procedure is less drastic in its results, but also has fewer side effects. Another less-invasive surgery to treat glaucoma is canaloplasty, which uses a state-of-the-art microcatheter to enlarge drainage channels and decrease IOP.
: The cornea is the clear layer that covers the eye's iris and pupil while playing a critical role in refracting and focusing light. Corneal surgeries include most varieties of vision-correcting refractive surgeries such as laser eye operations, but they also extend to other surgeries, such as corneal transplants. The transplant procedure, also called kerotoplasty, involves removing the diseased cornea and replacing it with a healthy donor cornea.
: These operations address issues with the vitreous humor, the gel-like matter that fills much of the eye, and/or the retina, the tissue of the inner eye that is sensitive to light and crucial to peripheral and central vision.
: Instead of directly involving the eye, these procedures address structures in the vicinity of the eye, including the eyelids and lacrimal (tear) ducts. These operations are performed under the supervision of an ophthalmologist that has had specialized training in plastic surgery.
Common Side Effects of Eye Surgeries
General side effects
: Any form of eye surgery may lead to some possible post-operative side effects. With many procedures, these include initial eye discomfort, a temporary or permanent increase in visually distracting floaters, dry eye, sensitivity to light, and a related Vitamin D deficiency due to avoiding the sun. More severe complications could include nausea, excessive discomfort and loss of vision. In any of these cases, an eye doctor should be contacted immediately.
: Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD), which involves the vitreous separating the retina, may occur following cataract surgery. PVD may lead to photopsia, a condition in which there are perceived light flashes.
Laser eye surgery
: Eyesight will likely be hazy for the first 24-48 hours after surgery, but should improve thereafter. The quality of vision may be inconsistent after the operation, but generally stabilizes within six months or less. Dry eyes, poor night vision and PVD are among the most widely reported side effects of laser eye surgery.
Eye muscle surgery
: Recovery usually involves minimal discomfort, with the eyes stabilizing within weeks. Overcorrection may occur, requiring additional procedures. One possible side effect is temporary or permanent double vision.
: Glaucoma procedures include the risk of creating higher or lower IOP. Chances of significant side effects with canaloplasty are generally quite low.
: With corneal transplants, the majority of operations are successful, but there is a slight risk that the new cornea might be rejected.
: These procedures tend to have few, if any, side effects.
: Side effects vary based in individual procedures, but are generally minimal.
Managing Eye Surgery RecoveryPost-eye surgery lifestyle changes
: Depending on surgery, some temporary lifestyle adjustments will be necessary to allow eyes to heal properly. Driving should be avoided until an eye doctor deems it permissible. Patients are often advised to avoid bright light, contact sports, swimming, eye make-up and applying creams or sunblock anywhere near the eyes. For cataract surgery, heavy lifting and bending over must be avoided, as these activities can place excessive pressure on the eyes.
General management of side effects
: Doctors will often prescribe eye drops and/or over-the-counter pain relievers to assist in the healing process after eye surgery. Eye shields, special glasses or other forms of protective eyewear, including sunglasses, are commonly required during the recovery and rehabilitation periods. The specific post-operative instructions of an eye doctor should always be carefully followed.
Nutritional supplement support
: Many common side effects of eye surgery can be managed with nutritional supplements. Some natural compounds have been shown to assist with eye floaters, dry eye, burning eyes, and other minor post eye-surgery complications.