Cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure in the United States. During the procedure, your qualified eye surgeon will remove the natural, clouded lens and replace it with a plastic artificial lens called an IOL (intraocular lens).
Please see Cataract Surgery and Macular Degeneration.
Before your Cataract Surgery
To prepare for your cataract surgery, you should talk to your eye doctor about any health conditions you have. You should also discuss any medications and supplements that you are taking. There are certain medications that can be dangerous if taken in conjunction with a cataract surgery.
It is also important to realize that if you have two cataracts, each eye will likely be corrected during separate surgeries so that one eye will have the opportunity to heal before the second eye surgery is performed.
Read about Cataract Surgery Cost.
Read about Cataract Surgery Risks.
During your Cataract Surgery
For your cataract surgery, your surgeon will apply either a local or topical anesthetic to your eye so that you will not feel anything during your procedure. You may also be given a prescription for medication to help you relax during your procedure.
After your eye has been thoroughly numbed and cleansed, the surgeon will make a small incision into your cornea so that he or she will be able to operate on your eye.
The surgeon will remove the natural lens through a process called phacoemulsification. With a small instrument, your surgeon will ultrasonically break up the natural lens and suction it out of the eye. Instead, your surgeon might choose to mechanically break up the lens through a process called phacofracture, so he or she can remove the pieces from the eye.
After the natural lens is removed, the IOL can be inserted through the same incision and put in the place of the natural lens.
Generally, the incision site will seal itself and no stitches are required, but sometimes surgeons choose to stitch the incision sealed, in which case the stitches can be left in permanently.
The Cataract Removal Process at a Glance
- Upon arrival you may receive eye drops and medication to help you relax
- A local or topical anesthetic will be used to make the operation as painless as possible
- The skin around your eye will be cleaned very thoroughly
- Sterile coverings will be placed around your eye and head
- An operating microscope is used to make the necessary incisions to the eye
- The surgeon will remove your cloudy lens and insert the IOL
You will likely wear a protective shield over your eye for a short while after your surgery. For at least the first week you should avoid any strenuous activity that could stress your eye while it’s healing. Additionally, avoid exposing your eye to anything like water or dust because these things could cause your eye to become infected.
You will need to revisit your surgeon at some point after your surgery so that your eye’s healing and prescription can be evaluated.
Sometimes, blurriness can develop in the posterior capsule (a membrane of the natural lens that is left intact during cataract surgery). It will make your vision appear much the same as it did with a cataract. Speak to your eye doctor if this occurs; there is a simple procedure that can correct this issue.
For more information about cataract surgery, please visit the common questions page.
For more information on post-operative recovery for your cataract surgery, please check out the cataract recovery page.
Please contact us if you would like to learn more about cataract surgery or if you would like to find a qualified surgeon in your area.