Cataract Surgery procedures

Cataracts are a clouding of vision that is common occurrence during the aging process. Cataracts are not a condition that must be treated immediately. In fact, treatment is usually only performed if the cataracts are affecting quality of life. In some cases, patients can respond well to non-surgical treatments such as corrective eyewear. If blurred vision, light sensitivity, or reading problems no longer respond to the eyewear, it may be time to consider surgery for removal.

Advancements in technology have allowed cataract surgery to evolve into a highly individualized and customized procedure. Based on the patient’s eye and advancement of the cataract, the surgeon can tailor the treatment to each specific case.

  • There are two primary types of surgery: phacoemulsification and standard extracapsular cataract extraction.

  • Phacoemulsification – This method for removing the natural lens breaks up the cataract using ultrasound technology. Before this is done, a tiny incision is made to allow room for the ultrasonic probe. The ultrasound emulsifies the cataract into tiny pieces and simultaneously suctions it from the eye. The capsule is left intact to hold the implanted lens in place. Phacoemulsification is the most common cataract surgery and has a faster recovery period than extracapsular cataract extraction.

  • Extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) – During this procedure, one incision is made where the cornea and sclera meet. The lens is then carefully extracted in one piece and replaced with the implanted lens.


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Both surgeries are typically performed under local or topical anesthetic. A sedative is also given to relax the patient. The anesthetic works to deaden the nerves and prevent blinking and moving.

There is minimal discomfort and typically no significant pain after cataract surgery. Before leaving, the surgeon should discuss signs of complications, restrictions on activity, medication, and eye protection. Patients will need to be examined a day or two after surgery and then again after a few weeks.

Signs of potential complications include:

  • Increasing pain
  • Swelling
  • Discharge
  • Decrease in vision

Patients experiencing any of these symptoms or changes in the field of vision should call the doctor right away for evaluation.


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