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Cataract Surgery

When a cataract causes bothersome vision problems that interfere with your daily activities, we may recommend surgery to remove the cataract. With cataract surgery, your eye’s cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens implant (called an intraocular lens or IOL).

The purpose of your lens is to bend (refract) light rays that come into the eye to help you see. Your own lens should be clear, but with a cataract it is cloudy. Having a cataract can be like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things may look blurry, hazy or less colorful.

The only way to remove a cataract is with surgery. Your ophthalmologist will recommend removing a cataract when it keeps you from doing things you want or need to do.

During cataract surgery, your cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens. That lens is called an intraocular lens (IOL). Your ophthalmologist will talk with you about IOLs and how they work.

What to Expect with Cataract Surgery

Before surgery:

Your surgeon will measure your eye to determine the proper focusing power for your IOL. Also, you will be asked about any medicines you take. You might be asked not to take some of these medicines before surgery.

You may be prescribed eye-drop medicines to start before surgery. These medicines help prevent infection and reduce swelling during and after surgery.

The day of surgery:

Your ophthalmologist may ask you not to eat any solid food at least 6 hours before your surgery.

Cataract removal surgery may be done in an outpatient surgery center or in a hospital. Here is what will happen:

  • Your eye will be numbed with eye drops or with an injection around the eye. You may also be given a medicine to help you relax.

  • You will be awake during surgery. You may see light and movement during the procedure, but you will not see what the doctor is doing to your eye.

  • Your surgeon looks through a special microscope. She creates tiny incisions (cuts, created by blade or a laser ) near the edge of your cornea. The surgeon uses these incisions to reach the lens in your eye. Using very small instruments, they will break up the lens with the cataract and remove it. Then they put your new lens into place.

  • Usually your surgeon will not need to stitch the incisions closed. These “self sealing” incisions will close by themselves over time. A shield will be placed over your eye to protect it while you heal from surgery.

  • You will rest in a recovery area for about 15–30 minutes. Then you will be ready to go home.

Sources: www.aao.org

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