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Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a quick, easy and relatively pain-free procedure. In most cases, patients are back to their normal routine activities the very next day. The procedure typically is performed on an outpatient basis and does not require an overnight stay in a hospital or other care facility.

Most modern cataract procedures involve the use of a high-frequency ultrasound device that breaks up the cloudy lens into small pieces, which are then gently removed from the eye with suction. This procedure, called phacoemulsification or "phaco," can be performed with smaller incisions than previous surgical techniques for cataract removal, promoting faster healing and reducing the risk of cataract surgery complications, such as a retinal detachment.


After all remnants of the cloudy lens have been removed from your eye, the cataract surgeon inserts a clear intraocular lens, positioning it securely behind the iris and pupil, in the same location your natural lens occupied. (In special cases, an IOL might be placed in front of the iris and pupil, but this is less common).

The surgeon then completes the cataract removal and IOL implantation procedure by closing the incision in your eye (a stitch may or may not be needed), and a protective shield is placed over the eye to keep it safe in the early stages of your cataract surgery recovery.

Preparing For Your Procedure

When preparing for your procedure, remember the following:

Following your procedure, your brain will have to learn how to work with your new artificial lends. It might take a few weeks or even several months for your vision to be optimal. After one year, and every year thereafter, you should have a complete eye exam by your eye doctor to ensure your eyes stay healthy.

While cataract surgery is one of the safest procedures performed today, there can be some complications or side effects. These complications are relatively rare, and most can be treated successfully. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of cataract procedures so you can make an informed decision about your options.

Laser Cataract Surgery

Recently, a number of femtosecond lasers — similar to the lasers used to create the corneal flap in all-laser LASIK — have been approved by the FDA for use in cataract surgery performed in the United States.

These lasers have gained approval for the following steps in cataract surgery, reducing the need for surgical blades and other hand-held tools:

  1. Creating corneal incisions to allow the surgeon access to the lens
  2. Removing the anterior capsule of the lens
  3. Fragmenting the cataract (so less phaco energy is required to break it up and remove it)
  4. Creating peripheral corneal incisions to reduce astigmatism (when needed)

Laser cataract surgery (or, more accurately, laser-assisted cataract surgery) is fairly new and significantly increases cataract surgery cost, primarily because the laser can cost from $300,000 to $500,000 for a surgeon to purchase and there are other significant costs associated with the use and maintenance of this technology.

While studies have shown that lasers can improve accuracy during certain steps of cataract surgery, they may not necessarily improve cataract surgery safety, recovery time and visual outcomes in every case. For the latest information about laser cataract surgery, ask your eye doctor during your pre-operative eye exam and cataract surgery consultation

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