Two Types of Cataract Removal Surgery
There are two types of cataract surgery:
- Phacoemulsification: Often referred to simply as “phaco” surgery. In this procedure, a small incision is made on the side of the cornea. A tiny probe is then inserted into the eye, emitting ultrasound waves that break up the lens. The lens is then removed via suction.
- Extracapsular: In this procedure, a larger incision in the cornea is made so that the cloudy lens can be removed in one piece.
In both versions of the procedure, an intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted to replace the natural lens. You will not feel or see the new lens; it functions the same as your old lens.
What to Expect Before/During/After Surgery
Approximately one week before your surgery, we will measure the curve of the cornea and the size and shape of your eye. This tells us which IOL will work best for you.
On the day of your surgery, your eye will again be dilated and washed. An anesthetic will be used to numb the eye and surrounding tissues. Most people are awake during surgery, though you can be put to sleep for a short time if necessary. The surgery itself will take around an hour.
After surgery, you will be given an eye patch. You are generally safe to go home the same day, though you will need to arrange transportation as you will not be able to drive.
You may experience some side effects, such as light sensitivity and fluid discharge. After a few days, most discomfort from surgery will be gone. Antibiotic eye drops will be prescribed to reduce the risk of infection; you will need to wear an eye shield or eyeglasses to protect the eye. You may take about eight weeks to heal.
We will meet with you during the recovery period to examine the eye and ensure that everything is healing as it should be.
Rare Complications of Surgery
Although problems after surgery are rare, they can include infection, bleeding, inflammation (pain, redness, swelling), loss of vision, double vision, and high or low eye pressure.
With prompt medical attention, these complications can usually be treated successfully. Please visit us if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
How Cataracts Affect Vision
Cataracts typically present with two main sets of symptoms:
- Clumps of protein reduce the amount of light reaching the retina. In this case, the clumped protein gradually reduces visual acuity in the affected eye. Most cataracts are of this nature.
- The lens tints a yellow or brownish color. This can be hard to notice, though it will begin to have a meaningful impact on your vision over time. It can make it difficult to read or discern colors.
Causes of Cataracts
The eye’s lens is composed primarily of water and protein. The protein is arranged in such a way that the lens is clear. Over time, protein clumps together. This begins to have a noticeable impact on your vision, creating cloudy or blurry spots.
UV radiation has been shown to also influence the development of cataracts. Protecting your eyes with UV-blocking lenses, found in most eyeglasses and sunglasses, is an effective way to minimize UV exposure.
Of course, the most significant cause of cataracts is aging.