Cataract surgery is an operation to remove your eye’s lens when it is cloudy.
The purpose of your lens is to bend (refract) light rays that come into the eye to help you see. Your own lens should be clear, but with a cataract it is cloudy. Having a cataract can be like looking through a foggy or dusty car windshield. Things may look blurry, hazy or less colorful.
The only way to remove a cataract is with surgery. Your ophthalmologist will recommend removing a cataract when it keeps you from doing things you want or need to do.
During cataract surgery, your cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens. That lens is called an intraocular lens (IOL). Your ophthalmologist will talk with you about IOLs and how they work.
Your ophthalmologist will measure your eye to set the proper focusing power for your IOL. Also, you will be asked about any medicines you take. You might be asked not to take some of these medicines before surgery.
You may be prescribed eyedrop medicines
to start before surgery. These medicines help prevent infection and reduce swelling during and after surgery.
The day of surgery:
Your ophthalmologist may ask you not to eat any solid food at least 6 hours before your surgery.
Cataract removal surgery may be done in an outpatient surgery center or in a hospital. Here is what will happen:
Days or weeks after surgery:
Like any surgery, cataract surgery carries risks of problems or complications. Here are some of those risks:
The IOL implant may become dislocated, moving out of position.
Your vision could become cloudy or blurry weeks, months or years after cataract surgery. This is not unusual. If you notice cloudy vision again, you might need to have a laser procedure. Called a posterior capsulotomy, this procedure helps restore clear vision.
Your ophthalmologist will talk with you about the risks and benefits of cataract surgery.
An intraocular lens (or IOL) is a tiny, artificial lens for the eye. It replaces the eye’s natural lens that is removed during cataract surgery.
The lens bends (refracts) light rays that enter the eye, helping you to see. Your lens should be clear. But if you have a cataract, your lens has become cloudy. Things look blurry, hazy or less colorful with a cataract. Cataract surgery removes this cloudy lens and replaces it with a clear IOL to improve your vision.
IOLs come in different focusing powers, just like prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Your ophthalmologist will measure the length of
your eye and the curve of your cornea. These measurements are used to set your IOLs focusing power.
The most common type of lens used with cataract surgery is called a monofocal IOL. It has one focusing distance. It may be set to focus for
up close, medium range or distance vision. Most people have them set for clear distance vision. Then they wear eyeglasses for reading or close work.
Some IOLs have different focusing powers within the same lens. These are called multifocal and accommodative lenses. These IOLs reduce your dependence on glasses by giving you clear vision for more than one set distance.
For people with astigmatism, there is an IOL called a toric lens. Astigmatism is a refractive error caused by an uneven curve in your cornea or lens. The toric lens is designed to correct that refractive error.
As you plan for your cataract surgery, talk to your ophthalmologist about your vision needs and expectations. He or she will explain IOL options for you in more detail.