Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.
Cataract removal is a procedure to remove a cataract. A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
The lens of the eye is responsible for focusing images onto the back of the eye. It is normally transparent. With cataracts, the lens begins to cloud over time. This will gradually cause a loss in vision.
Cataract removal is done when the cataract is causing problems with vision. The surgery improves vision.
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have cataract surgery, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
Local anesthesia will be used. It will make the area numb.
Description of the Procedure
There are two main types of cataract removal.
Most cataract removal surgeries are done using this technique. An ultrasound probe will break the cloudy lens into tiny fragments. A tiny incision will be made into the eye. The fragments will then be vacuumed out through the incision. A lens implant will be inserted to replace the affected lens. Stitches are often not needed. You may notice an improvement in your vision soon after surgery.
An incision will be made in the eye. The cataract will be removed in one piece through the incision, along with the anterior capsule of the lens.. The lens implant will be inserted to replace the affected lens. Because the incision will be larger, you will need stitches. The recovery will take longer with this technique.
After either procedure, a patch may be placed over your eye.
How Long Will It Take?
The process takes less than 1 hour.
Will It Hurt?
Most patients report no significant pain during the procedure. You may feel pulling or pressure sensations.
At the Care Center
Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions, which may include:
You should notice improvements in your vision, although at first your vision may actually be worse than prior to the surgery. Every eye heals differently. One eye may heal more quickly or slowly than the other. Since each lens is individually fitted for each patient, you will likely need weaker glasses or contacts. You may not need them at all after this procedure.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS)
Agency for Health Care Research and Quality website. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/ .
American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: http://www.aao.org .
10/1/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Gower EW, Lindsley K, Nanji AA, et al. Perioperative antibiotics for prevention of acute endophthalmitis after cataract surgery. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jul 15;7.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 10/1/2013