Cataract surgery is often performed as an outpatient procedure. While it may sound complicated, the procedure only takes minutes to complete.
Generally, the process involves in the removal of the clouded lens and replacing it with a clear, artificial lens implant. However, there are cases where the cataract is removed without replacing the lens with an implant. The very first step of the process is to dilate the pupils. The doctor will add eye drops into the eye to dilate the pupils along with a local anesthetic. Patients may also be given a sedative to help them relax.
There are several different surgical methods to remove cataracts. One method utilizes an ultrasound probe to remove the lens by breaking it up. The surgeon will make a small incision in the cornea and then insert the tiny probe into the lens where the cataract has formed. This procedure is known as phacoemulsification. Then, the probe is used to transmit ultrasound waves to emulsify the cataract and then to suction out the small fragments. The lens capsule, or the very back part of your lens is left as it is. At the completion, stitches may be used to close the incision made in the cornea. Another method is to make an incision in the eye to remove the lens. Known as extracapsular cataract extraction, this particular method is not a very common procedure and requires a larger incision. The surgeon will employ surgical tools to extract the front capsule along with the cloudy portion of the lens. This procedure is generally used when there are certain complications in the eyes. Since the incision is larger, it will be closed with stitches. Once again the back portion of the lens is left to allow the artificial lens to be fixed.
After the cataract is removed, the surgeon will implant the clear, artificial lens. These implants or intraocular lenses (IOLs) are made from silicone, acrylic or plastic. The lens cannot be seen or felt, and does not need any care after it has been implanted. IOLs come in different types depending on the patient’s requirements. Some are flexible and can be inserted through a smaller incision while others require larger incisions that will need to be sutured shut. It is possible to choose IOLs that block UV light, work as bifocals or to provide only one type of vision. Some people choose to get one distant vision lens for one eye and a near vision lens for the other. The right type of lens depends on the patient’s requirements, eye condition and lifestyle choices and can be determined with the aid of a doctor.