As optometrists, we see plenty of cataracts. It is common to see patients with all types of cataracts, and we have to administer tests to determine when patients are ready for extraction. We do refraction, slit lamp exam, and BAT test (a glare test to determine if patients are ready.) We also discuss if daily activities have been affected before referring patients out. The next time an optometrist sees their cataract patient is post-op- one day, one week, and one month after surgery.
During fourth year rotations, we get the opportunity to shadow different surgeries. This past week, I watched not just one surgery, but eight.
The surgeries were performed at a local surgical center that has at least 11 surgical rooms. After suiting up into some nice blue scrubs and putting a mask on, I got to enter. There were three RNs and one anesthetist to help the doctor with the surgery and flow of the day- and the surgeries were quick!
I have to give a lot of the credit to the patients that are able to look at the light while their cataract is being extracted. But, I think the coolest/most nerve racking part was seeing a block performed. A block is a retrobulbar injection. They “freeze” the eye muscles so the eye doesn’t move. The needle is long and apparently painful, so patients get to take a quick 5 minute nap while this is performed. I also learned how to “burp the para(centesis)” if a patient comes in after post-op with an extremely high eye pressure. You put pressure on one of the “holes,” which will let some of the aqueous out. I also saw two toric lenses placed, and was shown how the surgeons get the lenses in the correct orientation.
Watching cataract surgery is a benefit to optometrists. Now, I feel like I can explain a little bit better what to expect during the procedure. I also found it very rewarding when the cataract was finally extracted and a nice clear lenses was put into place.