About one in every 250 children develop cataracts at some point, so your little one isn’t alone when it comes to living with blurry or distorted vision. Luckily, surgery can produce a clear retinal image and allow your child to see without impairment as they grow up. The surgical process typically involves using an operating microscope under general anesthesia to remove the cataract, so your little one should be in and out of the medical facility on the same day. But while the removal of cataracts is a quick and relatively painless process, it’s sure to be a new experience for your child, which may result in a bit of anxiety about their scheduled surgery. Here are a few things you can do to support your little one and help ease the anxiety of having cataract surgery:
Get to Know the Surgeon
It’s a good idea to schedule an initial consultation appointment with your child as the center of attention at least one time before their scheduled surgery date. While it is important that you are able to have your questions and concerns addressed during the consultation, it’s essential that your child has an opportunity to get to know the surgeon’s personality and manner so they’re more likely to feel comfortable and safe while being treated. Perhaps the surgeon is willing to sit and read a page or two o your child’s favorite book with them during the meeting. Engagement is the key to “breaking the ice” and encouraging trust in your youngster.
If your child will require the use of contact lenses or glasses to help optimize their vision after surgery, it’s helpful to practice using similar tools at home before surgery. This will give your little one a chance to get used to their feel and performance so they can quickly and easily adapt to their regular use after having the cataracts removed. You can use toy glasses or ask your child’s doctor for non-prescription strength contacts to use at home.
If working with contacts, practice putting them in your child’s eyes so they can be worn for an hour or two a day during the week leading up to surgery. If working with glasses, have your little one wear them while they read and for an hour at a time periodically throughout the week before surgery. This should help make the transition to everyday use less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Make Recovery Relaxing
Aside from a small amount of itching and some sensitivity to light during the first few hours after surgery, the recovery process should not produce any ill side effects for your little one to face. However, you’ll want to keep your child calm and relaxed for a day or two after having their cataracts removed so their bodies can use all of their energy to properly heal. Set up a quiet corner on the living room couch where your child can rest without being separated from the rest of the family, and keep the lights low so they don’t cause irritation or sensitivity.
Schedule movie night for the evening after surgery so the whole family can enjoy a relaxing activity during recovery. Focusing on indoor activities, such as painting projects and baking, for a day or two after surgery will help to ensure that your little one gets the rest they need so they’re back to their old selves quickly. And to minimize rambunctious physical behavior during recovery, make sure other kids in the family have a clear understanding of how they’ll be expected to behave around their sibling after they come home from surgery.
These tips and tricks should help to provide both you and your child with some extra peace of mind throughout the cataract removal process and recovery thereafter.