What is cataract surgery?

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:48 pm
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye, which doesn’t allow a clear image to be formed on the retina, leading to a reduction in vision. In the early stages of cataract development, vision can usually be improved by changing the prescription of your glasses. Eventually, though, changing the prescription is no longer sufficient to maintain good vision. Surgical removal of the cataract becomes necessary when blurred vision interferes with normal daily activities, like reading or driving a car. A cataract is removed using microsurgical techniques in which a small incision is made into the eye. This incision is so small that, in most cases, it’s self-healing and stitches aren’t required. The most advanced technique for removing a cataract involves the use of ultrasound. An ultrasound probe is placed into the cataract, and the high-speed vibration breaks the cataract into tiny pieces. Once the clouded lens has been removed, it’s replaced with a new, clear lens, called an intraocular (in-truh-AWK-yoo-ler) lens implant. This implant enables patients to see well without having to wear thick, heavy eyeglasses. The entire procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis. The patient feels no pain, and the surgery is completed in 30 to 45 minutes. After the procedure, patients are instructed to spend a day relaxing at home, but they usually return to normal activities very quickly.

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