During cataract surgery, extremely small incisions, usually less than 3 mm long, are made at the edge of the cornea. The crystalline lens in which the cataract has formed is then broken into small pieces and removed with an ultrasound process called phacoemulsification. Next, a plastic or silicone prosthetic lens is inserted into the eye into the same space formerly occupied by the crystalline lens. This prosthetic lens stays in the eye permanently, and works to focus light on the retina again. The wounds in cataract surgery are so small that often they do not even require a suture to close them at the end of the surgery.

cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis. The procedure itself usually takes about 20 minutes or less. Your doctor will typically see you the day after surgery to make sure the lens is in proper position and there is no sign of infection. About 1-3 weeks following surgery, your doctor will see you again for a full eye exam and will prescribe any glasses if needed.

Cataract surgery is generally very safe. Advanced surgical techniques and equipment, plus the high level of skill eye surgeons acquire during training have greatly decreased severe complications that may occur during cataract surgery. A recent analysis of 90 published case studies of cataract surgery outcomes found that 97% of cataract surgeries resulted in no problem during the surgery or recovery period. Of the problems that may occur, most are self-limited or resolve with additional treatment. Rarely, cataract surgery can result in vision threatening complications, such as severe infection (< 0.5%), severe swelling of the cornea or retina (<1%), or retinal detachment (<1%).

Posterior Capsule Opacification

After several months, or even years, following cataract surgery 10-20% of patients develop posterior capsule opacification (PCO). In this condition, sometimes referred to as a “secondary cataract,” a fine, hazy film develops on the backside of the prosthetic lens implant, which may cause a gradual decline in vision or glare symptoms. Your surgeon can remove this film and restore the vision with a simple, in-office laser procedure called YAG Capsulotomy.

Thomas Eye Group

Atlanta, GA

Bucci Laser Vision

Wilkes-Barre, PA