the importance of optometry exams

What You Need To Know About Cataract Surgery & Avoiding Valsalva Maneuver

According to the National Eye Institute, more than half of Americans at age 80 live with cataracts or have had cataracts surgically removed. Clearly, cataract surgery is a very common surgery to have. The choice to have surgery is often left to the patient and, sometimes, they consider waiting simply because they are concerned about the surgery itself and the recovery period afterward.

However, it's important to consider that having clear vision can help decrease the odds of falls and fractures as well as the odds of having a car accident, so while going into surgery can be intimidating, it's a good idea to have it done anyhow. Knowing what to expect and why can help, especially when it comes to something called Valsalva maneuvers. Here's what you need to know. 

Pre-Op Instructions

One thing that can help someone get through any surgical procedure is to make sure they follow pre-op instructions to a T. You will be given a list of instructions prior to your scheduled date for cataract surgery. Read through the instructions carefully and call your eye doctor's office if you have any questions at all. 

For cataract surgery, one of the very last instructions you will hear while in the pre-op room is when the nurse tells you to empty your bladder. This isn't so you accidentally soil yourself while on the operating table. This is because if your bladder is full during surgery, it could cause your body to do what is called a Valsalva maneuver, which could lead to an increase of intraocular pressure. Obviously, pressure in the eyes during eye surgery should be avoided as much as possible. 

Post-Op Instructions

One of the post-op instructions will be to avoid straining or lifting heavy objects. Instructions such as these are also due to a Valsalva maneuver. You want to avoid a Valsalva maneuver as much as possible immediately following surgery to avoid intraocular pressure in your eyes until your eye(s) have had a chance to heal. 

A Valsalva maneuver occurs naturally when you strain, such as when having a bowel movement or when lifting a heavy object. It also occurs naturally when coughing or sneezing. Valsalva maneuver is the pressure increase you feel in your head, chest, and midsection. A Valsalva maneuver can be forced when you pinch your nose, close your mouth, and forcefully try to exhale while your nose and mouth are held closed. To learn more, contact a company like Cornea Consultants of Nashville.