Cataract Surgery (My Experience & Recovery)

Before It became apparent that I needed cataract surgery in 2009,  I believed that it was only the elderly who developed cataracts. Although the statistics do show that it is mainly people over a certain age are susceptible to developing cataracts they can occur in someone younger due to pre existing factors.

According to the National Eye Institute, half of all Americans will have experienced a cataract or had replacement surgery.  August is Cataract Awareness Month, and today I am here to share my story of cataracts and cataract surgery. 

What Is A Cataract & Who Is At Risk? 

Cataracts develop on the lens of the eye which is a clear layer behind the pupil and iris. Light is filtered through the lens to the retina which then sends a signal to the brain to form the image of what is being seen.   The lens consists mostly of water and protein, over time the protein can begin to bunch together, eventually increasing in size which in turn affects the vision.  

Cataracts develop on the lens of the eye which is a clear layer behind the pupil and iris

There are several different types of cataracts:-

Secondary cataract. Cataracts can form after surgery for other eye problems, such as glaucoma. Cataracts also can develop in people who have other health problems, such as diabetes. Cataracts are sometimes linked to steroid use.

Traumatic cataract. Cataracts can develop after an eye injury, sometimes years later.

Congenital cataract. Some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. These cataracts may be so small that they do not affect vision. If they do, the lenses may need to be removed.

Radiation cataract. Cataracts can develop after exposure to some types of radiation

National Eye Institute

Symptoms Of Cataracts

The symptoms or signs of cataracts aren’t only cloudy or blurred vision.  More frequent prescription changes can be a sign of a cataract forming. A halo effect when looking at light or light becoming too bright is a common symptom. Double vision, as well as colour appearing more faded than normal and poor night time vision are other signs of cataracts

My Cataract Diagnosis Was Out Of The Blue 

In April of 2009, I experienced the worst pain I could have ever imagined. I honestly thought I was going to die. After receiving a misdiagnosis of migraine, we eventually found out that it was in fact angle-closure glaucoma which caused me to be hospitalised to attempt to reduce the pressure in my eye.

I had countless eye drops and IV drips over the course of a few weeks. After 2 weeks of hospital appointments every other day the ophthalmologist in charge of my case decided I required surgery on my right eye.  

During one of the many examinations, I was advised that I had a cataract in the eye where the glaucoma was, my vision being poor in that eye to begin with, which meant I wasn’t aware of any changes in my vision. 

I was also informed that the beginnings of another cataract were apparent in my left eye. Bear in mind at the time I was 30 years old! I thought I was too young to have cataracts. However, it seems that I was experiencing them at a young age because of the visual impairment I was born with.

During one of the many examinations I was advised that I had a cataract

Due to my surgery being primarily for glaucoma treatment I was put under general anesthesia, whereas normally cataract surgery is carried out under local anesthesia.  Because of the short notice of the surgery being decided we were hanging around the hospital all day until a theatre became available. I was nervous but thankfully my partner was able to stay with me until I was taken to the theatre which was almost 10pm.  

The following morning, I woke up a little disoriented and groggy.   My eye felt tender and odd. My Consultant came to check on me and the stitches in my eye.  It was decided then that due to a cataract being present in the other eye that we would try Laser treatment to make holes in the eye, which in theory would slow down the development of vision issues, ultimately meaning I wouldn’t require more surgery.  

Not All Plans Work Out

Some point over the next six months to a year, it became clear that the laser treatment didn’t work, we tried another course of the treatment, which I’m not going to lie. I hated!!  That too didn’t work and I began to notice a slight blurring of vision as well as a halo of light.  

Surgery for my left eye was planned for January 2010.  Thankfully my consultant decided that it would be best for me to go under general anesthesia again.  He explained his decision as my being too young to have to remember the process of the surgery.   

After The Surgery And The Road To Recovery

Generally, the recovery for cataract surgery is quick. With the procedure being carried out in day surgery, there’s no need to be admitted overnight. Because I was under general anesthesia I was kept in the hospital for a few hours with a lovely eye patch and plastic shield that I had to wear at night in case I scratched my eye in my sleep. 

I don’t remember if I had to take any drops after the surgery but I do remember that it was several weeks before I was checked for new glasses!  It can normally take 6 weeks for the eye to heal properly which was the reason my ophthalmologist consultant wanted to wait until I got a vision check and new glasses. 

After The Surgery And The Road To Recovery

A few weeks ended up being a few months without glasses which meant that I was unable to work. This in turn led to me being let go from my job, on the basis of absence as the October following the original Glaucoma diagnosis is when my fibromyalgia symptoms began to appear. Thankfully I was able to finally get a new prescription and new glasses. I found another job and life seemed to return to normal.

Future Problems

In theory, the cataract replacement lens should last me for the rest of my life. There is a possibility of me developing a secondary cataract which is where the new lens’s position can become cloudy. If this were to happen I would receive more laser treatment. 

I receive yearly check-ups to make sure that the pressure of my eyes is normal and that there are no changes to my eye heath due to the Glaucoma and my preexisting eye condition. 

If you noticed any changes in your vision it is important to get your vision checked as soon as possible! Sadly there is no guaranteed way to prevent cataracts developing, however wearing sunglasses that protect eyes from harmful UV rays is a good place to start.

About The Author

Nicola Ogston is a blogger at She writes about chronic illness, disability and parenting.  She lives in central Scotland with her husband, son and dog Alba. As well as blogging Nicola volunteers as website coordinator for The UnChargeables..

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