Cataract Surgery: Premium Lenses
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s internal lens, which interferes with the individual’s ability to see clearly. At present, there is no way to eliminate a cataract other than surgically removing it. Virtually everyone undergoing cataract surgery will have a plastic lens implant placed in the eye to replace the eye’s natural lens. This lens implant will take over the focusing function of the eye’s original lens. Many people with cataracts, however, can see quite well, and are not in need of cataract surgery. It is only when the cataract impairs vision to the extent that activities like reading or driving become difficult that surgery may be necessary. More than one million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the United States. Cataract surgery has become one of the safest and most successful procedures in all of medicine. More than 95% of patients will obtain substantially improved vision after surgery, and the chance of problems due to the surgery, such as bleeding or infection, is less than one out of a hundred.
What To Expect
Cataract surgery is almost always an outpatient procedure, done under local anesthesia. Techniques vary widely, but the eye is always numbed completely with an anesthetic, and often a mild sedative is given to make the person undergoing surgery somewhat drowsy. The surgery is performed under a microscope to provide a magnified view of the eye. A small incision is made in the eye, and the front surface of the cataract is opened to allow access to the clouded tissue inside. The cloudy portion is then removed, leaving the thin clear back surface of the lens in place. This can be done either with a mechanical device called a phacoemulsifier or manually with extracapsular instruments. The lens implant is then placed in the shell of the natural lens, and the incision is closed.
Patients return home after surgery, and are usually examined the following day. Eye drops are used to accelerate the healing process and prevent infection, and patients are instructed to avoid any activity that could harm the eye while recovering from surgery.
Vision almost always improves greatly within 4-6 weeks, although many patients may see better within 1-2 weeks or less. Almost everyone will need a new glasses prescription after surgery, although it may be needed only for distance or for reading depending on the choice of lens implant power.