Cataract surgery


In cataract surgery, your eye’s natural lens is removed and typically replaced with an artificial lens. Your eye’s lens is usually transparent. The cloudiness of the lens brought on by a cataract eventually impairs vision. Ophthalmologists (eye doctors) do cataract surgery on an outpatient basis, so you don’t need to stay in the hospital following the procedure. Surgery to remove cataracts is quite common and typically safe.

In order to recover vision lost due to cataracts, cataract surgery is performed. Your eye’s cloudy natural lens will be swapped out during surgery for a clean artificial lens. The operation normally takes no more than 15 minutes and you won’t feel a thing. There is normally no need for an overnight hospital stay because it is an outpatient operation.

Although cataract surgery initially seems frightening, it is one of the safest and most successful vision operations now accessible. Every year, millions of cataract operations are carried out in the United States, and the vast majority result in outstanding results. As you get older, when cataracts are most prone to form or deteriorate, the likelihood that you’ll need cataract surgery increases.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that cataracts can affect:

  • 1 in 20 people in the 50–54 age group
  • Approximately 50% of people aged 75 to 79
  • More than 2 in 3 adults over the age of 8

Common causes of contracture deformity

Inactivity and scarring from an accident or burn are the most frequent causes of contracture. The risk of contracture deformity is significantly higher in people with various illnesses that limit mobility. For instance, contractures are frequently developed in persons with severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or osteoarthritis (OA). These tissues are excellent candidates for tightening since they aren’t moving their muscles and joints through their typical range of motion. Joint contractures, for instance, are frequent in patients being discharged from intensive care units or during protracted hospital stays. Additionally, those who have had a stroke and the ensuing paralysis frequently experience it.

Other causes include diseases that are inherited or that develop in early childhood, such as:

  • Muscular dystrophy. People with this disease often experience muscle tightness because significantly weak muscles impair their ability to move.
  • Cerebral palsy (CP). This disease causes muscle tightness and limits movement.
  • Central nervous system diseases. These include polio, multiple sclerosis (MS), or Parkinson’s disease.
  • Inflammatory diseases. Having rheumatoid arthritis (RA) puts you at a higher risk for contracture deformity.

Why is it done?

image via The Des Moines Register

To correct cataracts, surgery is performed. Vision blurring and an increase in light glare are two effects of cataracts. Your doctor might advise cataract surgery if having a cataract makes it harder for you to perform the daily activities you usually would. Cataract surgery may be advised when a cataract prevents the treatment of another eye condition. For instance, if a cataract interferes with your eye doctor’s ability to monitor or treat other eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, they may advise cataract surgery. Most of the time, delaying cataract surgery won’t affect your eye, giving you time to weigh your options. Depending on how well your vision is still, you may not need cataract surgery for many years, if ever.

Keep these considerations in mind when thinking about cataract surgery:

  • Do you have enough vision to work and drive safely?
  • Do you find it difficult to read or watch television?
  • Is it tough to walk stairs, buy, cook, do yard work, or take medication?
  • How independent are you affected by eyesight issues?
  • Does it become harder to see in bright lights?


After cataract surgery, complications are rare, and the most of them can be properly managed.

The risks of cataract surgery include:

  • Inflammation
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Closed eyelid
  • Displacement of a synthetic lens
  • Retinal separation
  • Glaucoma
  • Additional cataract
  • Absence of vision

If you have a major medical condition or another eye illness, your chance of complications is higher. There are times when cataract surgery is unsuccessful in restoring vision because of underlying eye damage brought on by glaucoma or macular degeneration. Before deciding to have cataract surgery, it may be advantageous to assess and address any underlying eye issues.

How do you get ready?

contaract surgery

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Medicines and food
You could be told to abstain from food and liquids for 12 hours before cataract surgery. Additionally, your doctor might suggest that you temporarily cease taking any medications that could make you more likely to bleed during the surgery. If you take any medications for prostate issues, tell your doctor because some of these medications may affect how well cataract surgery works. One or two days before the procedure, antibiotic eyedrops may be recommended.

Other safety measures

You can typically return home the same day as your surgery, but you won’t be allowed to drive, so make arrangements for a ride. Also make arrangements for assistance around the house, if necessary, as your surgeon could restrict actions like bending and lifting for about a week following surgery.

What to anticipate

Prior to the process

Your doctor uses a painless ultrasound examination to examine the size and shape of your eye a week or so before surgery. This aids in choosing the proper lens implant type (intraocular lens, or IOL).

IOLs are almost always provided to cataract surgery patients. These lenses sharpen your vision by concentrating light on the retina. The lens won’t be visible to you or feelable to you. It becomes a permanent component of your eye and requires no maintenance.

There are numerous IOLs with various features available. The optimal IOL for you and your lifestyle will be discussed prior to surgery by you and your eye specialist. Cost could also be a consideration because insurance companies might not pay for all types of lenses.

IOLs can be manufactured of silicone, acrylic, or plastic. UV light is blocked by some IOLs. Some IOLs are implanted through an incision that needs multiple stitches (sutures) to seal and are made of tough plastic.

Many IOLs, however, are flexible, enabling a smaller incision with few or no stitches. This kind of lens is folded and inserted by the surgeon into the empty capsule that formerly housed the natural lens. The folded IOL unfolds once within the eye, filling the empty capsule.

There are various kinds of lenses available, such as:

IOLs can be manufactured of silicone, acrylic, or plastic. UV light is blocked by some IOLs. Some IOLs are implanted through an incision that needs multiple stitches (sutures) to seal and are made of tough plastic.

Many IOLs, however, are flexible, enabling a smaller incision with few or no stitches. This kind of lens is folded and inserted by the surgeon into the empty capsule that formerly housed the natural lens. The folded IOL unfolds once within the eye, filling the empty capsule.

There are various kinds of lenses available, such as:

Fixed-focus mono-focal: This type of lens has a single focus strength for distance vision. Reading will generally require the use of reading glasses.
Accommodating-focus mono-focal: Although these lenses only have a single focusing strength, they can respond to eye muscle movements and shift focus to near or distant objects.
Multifocal: These lenses are similar to glasses with bifocal or progressive lenses. Different areas of the lens have different focusing strengths, allowing for near, medium, and far vision.
Astigmatism correction (toric): If you have significant astigmatism, a toric lens can help correct your vision.
Discuss the benefits and risks of the different types of IOLs with your eye surgeon to determine what’s best for you.

During the process

Cataract surgery typically takes an hour or less to complete as an outpatient treatment. Your eye will first be dilated with eyedrops by your doctor. Local anesthetics will be administered to numb the area, and you might also be given sedatives to make you more comfortable. If a sedative is administered, you can be sleepy but awaken during surgery. The clouded lens is removed during cataract surgery, and a clear prosthetic lens is often placed in its place. However, there are some circumstances where a cataract can be eliminated without the use of an artificial lens.

Cataract removal surgery options include:

Using an ultrasound probe to break up the lens for removal: A tiny incision is made in the cornea of your eye during a technique known as phacoemulsification (fak-o-e-mul-sih-fih-KAY-shun), during which your surgeon inserts a thin probe into the lens material where the cataract has developed. The probe, which emits ultrasonic waves, is then used by the surgeon to emulsify the cataract and suck out the pieces. The lens capsule at the very back of your eye is kept whole so that the artificial lens can rest there. At the end of the surgery, the tiny corneal incision may be closed with stitches.

Making an incision in the eye and removing the lens in one piece: A wider incision is needed for extracapsular cataract extraction, a less common treatment, than for phacoemulsification. Your doctor will make a bigger incision through which they will use surgical instruments to remove the cataract’s clouded lens and front capsule. Your natural lens’s very back capsule is kept in situ so that the artificial lens can rest there. If you have certain eye issues, this operation might be done. Stitches are needed for the larger incision.

After the artificial lens has been implanted into the empty lens capsule following the removal of the cataract by phacoemulsification or extracapsular extraction.

After the procedure

Expect your vision to start to improve a few days after cataract surgery. As your eye adjusts to the injury and heals, your vision may initially be blurry. After surgery, you may notice that colors seem brighter because you are viewing the world through a fresh, clear lens. Before surgery, a cataract typically has a yellow or brown tint that dulls the appearance of colors.

Typically, you’ll visit your eye doctor to check on your healing a day or two after surgery, the week after, and then again after about a month. It’s typical to experience slight discomfort and itching for a few days following surgery. Do not rub or squeeze your eye. On the day of the operation, your surgeon might instruct you to put on an eye patch or safety shield. Additionally, your surgeon could advise you to use the eye patch for a few days following your procedure and the sleep mask while you heal.

In order to manage eye pressure, treat inflammation, and prevent infection, your doctor may advise eyedrops or other medications. These drugs may occasionally be administered into the eye during surgery. The majority of the discomfort ought to go away after a couple of days. In most cases, full recovery happens in eight weeks.

If you encounter any of the following, get in touch with your doctor right away:

  • loss of vision
  • Despite taking over-the-counter painkillers, the discomfort that endures
  • increased eye sensitivity
  • eyelid enlargement
  • Flashes of light or several fresh dots (floaters) in your field of vision

After having cataract surgery, the majority of people use glasses, at least occasionally. When your eyes have recovered sufficiently for you to receive a final prescription for glasses, your doctor will let you know. This occurs often one to three months following surgery. Your doctor will typically schedule the second surgery if you have cataracts in both eyes after the first eye heals.


Most patients who undergo cataract surgery successfully regain their vision after the treatment. After cataract surgery, some patients may experience secondary cataract development. This frequent consequence is referred to in medicine as posterior capsule opacification (PCO). You experience vision loss when the back of the lens capsule, the portion of the lens that was left in place after surgery and now supports the lens implant, becomes clouded.

A painless outpatient technique called yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) laser capsulotomy is used to cure PCO. In YAG laser capsulotomy, a tiny hole is created in the clouded capsule using a laser beam, creating a clear passage for the light to flow through. You typically wait in the doctor’s office for an hour or so following the treatment to make sure your eye pressure doesn’t increase. Increased eye pressure and retinal detachment are two uncommon additional problems.