An Ultimate Guide: Cataract Eye Surgery

The best medical approach to remove any cataract is through cataract surgery. This eye surgery procedure is generally done in a specialized medical eye clinic, regular hospital or any outpatient ambulatory surgery clinic.

3 acceptable standards of cataract surgery performed by an eye specialist

Phacoemulsification

This is the most common procedure where the entire operation could last up to 15-20 minutes with minimal usage of sedation by your eye surgeon. The surgeon makes use of an operating microscope and creates a small incision near the cornea on the surface of the affected eye. The laser like instrument (thin ultrasound probe) is inserted into the eye using ultrasonic vibration to dissolve the cloudy lens (phacoemulsify). The small particles are suctioned and an artificial lens implant is put into the capsular bag where the cataract was removed. The lens implant is part of the normal cataract surgery as it replaces the cloudy lens or cataract that is removed. The eye is no different than a camera requiring a lens to focus and obtain a clear picture. In most cases, no stitches are needed to close the incision.

Extracapsular

This process is advised to eye patients with advanced cases of cataract and their lenses are already too dull to be dissolved into tiny parts. The eye surgeon creates a bigger incision to remove the cataract and an artificial lens is placed. Unlike the phacoemulsification, this surgical procedure needs stitches to close the wound and recovery period may take longer. This procedure is reserved for severe cataracts where patients have typically waited too long to have them removed, causing much longer healing periods and higher risk of complications at the time of cataract surgery.

Femtolaser

This is the most recently FDA approved technique that is not an insurance-covered procedure due to the advanced imaging requirements. This procedure is usually reserved for patients that have premium intraocular lens implants placed or those with previous trauma or pseudoexfoliation medical problems.

If diagnosed with cataracts, the following measurements are done prior the actual eye surgery. Eye tests are done before the surgery like the A-scan where the length of the affected eye is measured. Keratometry is also performed to measure the curve of the cornea. These 2 measurements are necessary to help the eye doctor choose the appropriate lens implant. Without these measurements cataract surgery cannot be performed.

If the patient underwent other eye surgeries before the cataract operation, such as LASIK, he/she can still have this treatment. The patient must inform the cataract surgeon of his/her prior laser vision correction procedure(s) because this data will provide the eye specialist the necessary data to do the detailed calculations needed to select the correct intraocular lens implant (IOL) at the time of the cataract surgery.

Medical history of the patient is also required before the surgery, so that the eye doctor will have an idea which among your present medications will affect the success of your eye operation or lead to other complications. For example, if a patient is taking alpha-blocker drugs such as Flomax or any medication ending in “-osin”, these medicines may prevent the proper dilation of the pupil during the surgery, so the doctor may need to adjust the procedure to avoid intraoperative complications.

Ask referrals from people you know who have undergone cataract treatment to ensure you are in safe hands. Consult your chosen eye surgeon about the probable cataract surgery recovery period and other possible side effects after cataract surgery.