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Cataract Surgery

What is Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is the most predominantly performed surgical procedure in medicine. It is also one of the secure surgical procedures. The procedure comprises replacing the cloudy natural lens of the eye, known as a cataract, with a new synthetic lens.

How long does cataract surgery take?

Cataract surgery takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes to complete, depending on the condition's severity. Patients should also plan to spend up to half an hour post-surgery to recover from the sedative effects.

Types of cataract surgery

Small-incision cataract surgery (Phacoemulsification)

The most common type of cataract removal. The eye surgeon makes a very tiny opening in the eye near the outer corner. A miniature probe gives off ultrasound waves to dissolve the core, the rigid portion of the cloudy lens. The rest of the cataract material is removed by another probe, which offers suction through the same opening.

Extracapsular surgery

During this form of surgery, a more extended opening is made on the top portion of the eye to remove the hard center of the lens. The remaining cataract material is then taken out by suction through the large opening.

The removed lens is substituted by an intraocular lens (IOL) inserted through the previous opening at the end of the surgery. An IOL refers to a clear, artificial lens that does not require care. It becomes part of the eye. With an IOL, the patient generally has better eyesight because light can pass to the retina. The patient does not see or feel the new lens.

Who needs cataract surgery?

Eye doctors recommend cataract surgery if a patient has vision loss that gets in the way of routine activities such as reading, driving, or watching TV.

Doctors might also suggest surgery even if cataracts aren't the primary cause of vision problems. For instance, patients may require having cataracts removed so the doctor can see into the back of the patient's eye. This can aid them to track and treat other eye conditions, for instance, diabetic retinopathy or age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

How to prepare for cataract surgery?

Patients will probably require a few steps to prepare for cataract surgery.

Before surgery

  • About a week before surgery, the eye doctor will perform some tests to measure the size and shape of a patient's eye. These tests aid the eye doctor in choosing the right type of artificial lens (called an intraocular lens, or IOL).
  • Eye doctors may prescribe special eye drops to shield a patient's eye from getting an infection.
  • Patients should stop taking a few medications. Inform the eye doctor about any medications they take. 
  • Eye doctors may tell patients to stop eating and drinking several hours before surgery. 
  • Clean eyelids and eyelashes. 

What happens during cataract surgery?

Throughout the surgery, the ophthalmologist removes the cloudy lens from the patient's eye and substitutes it with an artificial lens, also known as an intraocular lens (IOL). The surgery lasts about 60 minutes and is almost pain-free.

Generally, the patient will be awake during cataract surgery. Patients might notice lights or motion, but they won't be able to see what the doctor is doing. Eye doctors can give medicine to aid them so that they stay relaxed and calm during the surgery.

When a patient gets this surgery, their eye doctor will:

  • Put numbing drops into the eye to keep from feeling anything. 
  • Utilise tiny tools to cut into the patient's eye, break up the lens, as well as take it out.
  • Place the new artificial lens in the patient's eye.
  • After the eye doctor places new lens, patient will require to rest in a recovery area outside the operating room for some time. Before they go home, the medical team will check to make sure they don't have any issues with their eye.

After cataract surgery

The eye doctor will explain how to shield the eye post-cataract surgery. They'll give eye drops to aid the eye heal, and patient may need to wear a special eye shield or glasses. Patients may also need to avoid some activities for a few weeks — such as touching their eyes or lifting heavy things. 

Eyes may feel slightly itchy or less comfortable and sensitive to light and touch. After 1 or 2 days, the eye should feel better.

Patients must call an eye doctor right away if they notice any of these problems post-surgery:

  • Vision loss 
  • Extreme pain that won't go away even if they take medicine for it. 
  • Extremely red eyes Floaters (flashes of light or a lot of tiny dark spots or squiggly lines that float across the vision)

Most individuals are wholly healed eight weeks post-surgery. Eye doctors will schedule checkups to make sure the patient's eye is healing correctly. 

Will vision be normal after cataract surgery?

About 9 out of 10 individuals who get cataract surgery see better afterward, but vision might be blurry at first while the eye recovers.  

Some people notice that colors seem brighter post-cataract surgery. This is because of the reason the synthetic lens doesn't have the observable yellow or brown tint that natural lens had from the cataract. 

Once the eye is completely healed, an individual might require a prescription for new glasses or contact lenses to observe clearly.

Risks of cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is among the most efficacious types of surgery performed. But like in the case of any other surgery, there are risks. For instance:

  • Swelling or infections
  • Loss of vision or double vision
  • Unusual modifications in eye pressure
  • Retinal detachment
  • Secondary cataracts

In a nutshell, cataract surgery is a quick and painless procedure aimed at removing a cloudy lens impairing vision. It comprises the placement of a new intraocular lens. Surgery is typically recommended when cataracts significantly impede daily activities. It boasts a 97% success rate in enhancing vision with minimal complications experienced by many individuals.


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