Cataract Surgery

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). Cataract surgery is often performed as an outpatient procedure and does not require an overnight hospital stay.

Pre-operative tests for cataract surgery

Before surgery, the length of your eye will be measured in what is called an A-scan, and the curve of your cornea will be measured in a technique called keratometry. These measurements help your Eye M.D. select the proper lens implant for your eye. You will also discuss the various lens options available to you.

If you plan to have cataract surgery and you have had LASIK or other laser vision correction, provide your Eye M.D. with the vision correction prescription you had before LASIK, if possible. This information will help your Eye M.D. calculate the correct IOL prescription for you.

Medications and cataract surgery

If you are having cataract surgery, be sure to tell your ophthalmologist about all medications and nutritional supplements you are taking. If you currently use or have ever used alpha-blocker drugs for prostate problems, such as Flomax®, Hytrin®, Cadura® or Uroxatral® , tell your Eye M.D. These medications may prevent your pupil from dilating properly during surgery, leading to possible complications. If your surgeon is aware that you have had these drugs, he or she can adjust their surgical technique to adapt as needed, allowing for a successful cataract removal procedure. You should also tell your Eye M.D. about any other sedative medications you are taking.

To reduce the risk of infection from surgery, your ophthalmologist may prescribe antibiotic eyedrops for you to use one or two days before surgery.

The cataract surgery procedure

The most common procedure used for removing cataracts is called phacoemulsification. A small incision is made in the side of the cornea (the front part of your eye), where your Eye M.D. inserts a tiny instrument that uses high-frequency ultrasound to break up the center of the cloudy lens and carefully suction it out.

After the cloudy lens has been removed, the surgeon will replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL) implant made of plastic, silicone or acrylic. This new, clear lens allows light to pass through and focus properly on the retina. The IOL becomes a permanent part of your eye. In most cases, the IOL is inserted behind the iris, the colored part of your eye, and is called a posterior chamber lens. Sometimes, the IOL must be placed in front of the iris. This is called an anterior chamber lens. When the IOL is in place, the surgeon closes the incision. Stitches may or may not be used. After the surgery, your Eye M.D. usually places a protective shield over your eye.

Cataract surgery recovery

You will spend a short period of time resting in the outpatient recovery area before you are ready to go home. You will need to have someone drive you home.

Following your surgery, it is very important to put in the eye drops exactly as prescribed by your ophthalmologist to promote healing. You will also need to take care to protect your eye by wearing the eye shield whenever you sleep, and by wearing special wraparound sunglasses in bright light. Be sure not to rub your eye.

The first week of your recovery, you must avoid strenuous activity such as exercise or bending and heavy lifting (including anything over 25 pounds). You will also need to avoid getting any water, dirt or dust in your eye, which can lead to infection.

You may have some blurry vision a few days to weeks after surgery procedure. If you experience any pain or loss of vision, be sure to call your ophthalmologist.

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