A cataract is a cluster of protein cells that cause the lens in the affected eye to cloud over, which impacts your vision. Surgical removal of the lens is the only effective treatment for this condition, and surgery is recommended for those whose vision is impacted to the point of interfering with normal daily activities, such as reading or driving. If you have a cataract, you may be wondering what the cataract removal procedure involves. Here's an overview of what happens before and during cataract surgery:
Before Cataract Surgery
Before you have cataract surgery, you will have some decisions to make relating to the artificial lens that will be used to replace the damaged lens your surgeon will remove. It's necessary to replace the damaged lens, as the lens protects the back of your eye and is required to allow your eye to focus and process light. You won't feel the artificial lens and it doesn't alter the appearance of your eye, but there are a few lens options available for you to consider.
Artificial lenses can be made of acrylic, plastic or silicone, and the type you choose will determine how your surgeon secures the lens in your eye. Rigid plastic and acrylic lenses are attached to the eye by making an implant incision, which then has to be stitched closed. A flexible silicone lens can be folded to fit into the lens capsule, so no incision is required.
Additionally, you can choose a lens type that blocks ultraviolet light, or you can choose prescription lenses to correct some vision issues, such as long-sightedness, which removes the need to wear glasses.
The Cataract Removal Procedure
Cataract removal surgery is typically completed in one day using local anaesthetic. However, if you are particularly nervous about having the procedure done, it may be possible to have a general anaesthetic. Your doctor will administer eye drops to dilate your pupil, which allows them to see the lens better. A tiny incision is made in your cornea, which allows the surgeon to insert an ultrasound probe into your eye and break up the lens using ultrasound waves. The fragments of the lens are then removed with a small suction tool before the artificial lens is set in place. The cornea is then stitched to prevent bacteria from entering your eye. After your surgery, it can take a few days for your vision to normalise, and you will see your doctor for a follow-up appointment around a week after the procedure.
If you're considering cataract surgery, discuss any potential surgical complications with your doctor in advance of scheduling the procedure. Cataract removal is a very routine surgery, but it's best to be your doctor will be happy to answer any questions you have.