During cataract surgery, your cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens.
To function well the lens in your eye should be clear. When someone has a cataract, it means that the lens in that eye is cloudy. A cloudy lens makes it difficult for you to see (impairs vision) because it prevents light from passing through. Having a cataract can be like looking through a dusty window. Things look blurry, hazy or less colorful. Your ophthalmologist will recommend removing a cataract when it keeps you from doing things you want or need to do.
Removing the cataract and replacing it with a clear artificial lens allows you to see more clearly.
The only way to remove a cataract is with surgery. During cataract surgery, your cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). Your ophthalmologist will talk with you about IOLs. Cataract removal surgery may be done in an outpatient surgery center or in a hospital. Here is what happens during phacoemulsification cataract surgery: Your eye is numbed with eye drops (or with an injection). 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 surgeon is doing inside your eye. Your surgeon will make tiny incisions (cuts) near the edge of your cornea (the clear covering on the front of your eye). The surgeon uses these incisions to reach the lens in your eye using very small instruments. An ultrasound instrument is used to break up the center of the cloudy lens and suction it out. Then, your new lens is put into place. Usually your surgeon will not need to stitch the incisions closed. These “self-sealing” incisions eventually close by themselves over time. A shield (patch) will be placed over your eye to protect it while you heal from surgery. You will need to rest in a recovery area for about 15–30 minute before you can go home.
Cataract surgery typically takes 10-12 minutes.
Usually local anesthesia is used for this quick procedure. Your surgeon will discuss options with you.
Before surgery, an ophthalmic assistant or technician will measure your eye to select the proper size of IOL for you. You will be assessed to determine if you are fit for local anesthetic. You will be asked to take all of your medications and have a light meal before coming for surgery. Some medications may need to be temporarily stopped before surgery.
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Do not plan on driving yourself home. Make arrangements for transportation home.
Many professionals will be involved. These will usually include a surgeon, a scrub nurse and ophthalmic assistants.