Cataracts are the leading cause
of vision loss among adults 55 and older. Usually they
are a natural part of aging, but eye injuries and
certain medications also can cause cataracts.
Cataract surgery is the type of surgery most frequently
performed by Eye Clinic doctors, at a rate of about 2,500 a
A cataract is a clouding of the eye's natural lens. The lens
focuses light on the retina at the back of the eye. A clear
lens produces clear, sharp images. If a cataract clouds the
lens, light is absorbed or scattered, which can cause visual
images to look fuzzy and blurry.
in cataract surgery have made the procedure much simpler and
the recovery time much quicker than in years past.
To correct cataracts, the
surgeon used to make a large incision and removed the entire
clouded lens of the eye. This procedure, known as intracapsular
cataract surgery, involved a lengthy hospital stay and a long
visual recovery time. Thick cataract glasses corrected vision.
The next improvement was
extracapsular cataract surgery. With this technique, the surgeon
removed just the inner clouded part of the lens, leaving the outer
membrane or "bag" in place to support an intraocular lens implant.
A lens implant within the eye
was one of the most important medical advances in recent history.
The intraocular lens replaces the need for thick glasses or
contact lenses. However, many cataract patients do wear glasses
for reading after surgery.
Today, there is additional
technology available to the surgeon called phaco-emulsification,
or "phaco" to break up and gently remove the clouded inner lens. A
refinement in the "phaco" technique is a smaller incision in the
eye. This allows the surgeon to close the incision with a single
stitch or no stitch. There is also the possibility that you can
have the surgery with only the use of topical anesthesia, which
can mean a no-shot, no-stitch surgical procedure. A combination
of these advancements results in faster visual recover time and a
quicker return to normal activities.
Your surgeon will select the
best procedure to meet your needs.