Eye Surgery

Eye surgery, or ocular surgery, includes a wide range of operations performed on the eye itself as well as the surrounding muscles and tissues, such as the eyelids and eyebrows. Eye surgery is an extremely delicate process due to the fragile structure of the eye and the incredibly complex optic nerves that relay the images your eyes see to your brain. Therefore most eye surgery is undertaken by surgeons with particular ocular expertise, also known as ophthalmologists, who will choose the appropriate surgical procedure and guide the patient through the process.

What does eye surgery involve?

Due to the sensitivity of the eye, anaesthetics are an essential part of eye surgery. Whilst local anaesthetics such as gels and eye drops will numb the eye and surrounding tissue and are often used for quick, routine procedures, general anaesthetic is the more common option for major operations or repairing traumatic eye injuries. General anaesthetic can also be used for eye surgery on children and nervous or apprehensive patients to reduce the risk of movement. Cleanliness is also very important before, during and after eye surgery; sterile instruments, bandaging and antiseptics are all used to reduce the risk of infection as the eye’s intricate nerves, large blood supply and its proximity to the brain could easily lead to further issues if infected.

What is laser eye surgery?

Thanks to technological advancements in recent years, laser eye surgery has become one of the most popular eye surgeries. By using a state of the art excimer laser to reshape the cornea, which is the transparent layer that covers the front of the eye, laser eye surgery reduces or even eliminates the need for corrective glasses or contact lenses. The surgery is often quick, with the process taking no longer than a few hours and any discomfort felt afterwards disappearing after a few days.

Cataracts are the result of cloudiness building up on the eye’s lens due to disease, trauma or simply ageing. Cataract removal is by far the most common form of ocular surgery, but if the cataracts cover too much of the lens to remove without causing significant visual loss, removal of the whole lens may be required. Removed lenses are replaced with a durable, plastic alternative; similar to a contact lens but placed permanently inside the eye. Due to the nature of cataract surgery and the temporary reductive effects it can have on vision, plenty of rest after surgery is highly recommended.

Operations on optic muscles and surrounding tissue can be just as effective at curing visual conditions or reducing strain on the eyes. Surgeons are able to loosen and tighten specific muscles to correct the physical positioning of the eye, which can be particularly beneficial for people with strained or torn optic muscles or irregularly shaped eye sockets.

What are the risks of eye surgery?

Whether the eye itself is operated on or not, it is crucial that infection is avoided after ocular surgery. It is particularly important to keep water away from your eyes whilst they recover as it is impossible to know what kinds of bacteria it may be carrying. Don’t shower or wash your hair or face until at least the day after and even then be sure to prevent any soap, shampoo or shaving foam from getting near your eyes. Avoid public bodies of water like pools, jacuzzis, rivers and lakes for at least three weeks as these are extremely high risk. It is also worth noting that hair dye, hairspray and makeup should be avoided for at least two weeks as some chemicals found in them can easily irritate the eye. Although it may seem obvious, avoid rubbing your eyes as they will still be extremely sensitive and delicate, plus it is hard to keep track of where your hands have been. You may also be advised to wear an eye-shield while you sleep to avoid unconsciously irritating your eyes at night. Even after your eyes have recovered they will still need protection, sunglasses must be worn on bright days for at least a year and, if engaging in sport or exercise, supportive eye protection must be worn for at least a month. It is important to resume driving only when you feel safe doing so, be sure to get your doctor’s permission first.

What should I do if I require eye surgery?

Although rare, side effects of eye surgery can include under and over-correction, headaches, temporary glare and other visual artefacts. If you need advice or you experience pain or a sudden decline in vision, see you doctor as soon as possible. They will do their best to help or refer you to an eye specialist if appropriate. TripMedic can help by arranging a consultation for you with a nearby professional in your own language.

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