Cataract surgery is typically performed using what is known as a small incision phaecoemulsification technique. This means that the cataract surgery is accomplished using the smallest possible incision, and removal of the lens material is accomplished using an ultrasonic probe.
Following dilation of the pupil, the surgical area is cleaned and prepped using betadine or other cleansers. A topical anesthetic is used to numb the eye. An incision of between 2.4 and 2.8 millimeters in length is then created at the junction of the cornea (the clear domed structure on the front of the eye) and the sclera (the white part of the eye.)
Another dose of anesthetic is then administered inside the eye through this incision. The tissue enveloping the cloudy natural crystalline lens, or cataract, is called the lens capsule. Part of the capsule is gently removed from the lens. This makes an opening through which the surgeon can access the cataract. The cataract is then broken up using a pen-like ultrasonic device, which pulverizes the hardened and yellowed lens proteins. The pulverized material is simultaneously vacuumed from the eye.
Once all of the cataract material has been removed, the lens capsule, which was opened at the beginning of the surgery, is checked for stability. A folded intraocular lens (IOL), specifically chosen by the surgeon to suit your individual needs and goals, is then inserted through the original incision and maneuvered into the lens capsule and centered. The lens should remain inside your eye in this location without moving. Intraocular lenses cannot be felt or sensed by the patient.
In most cases, once the lens is centered within the lens capsule, and the instruments are removed, the surgery is complete. Under most normal circumstances stitches are not required to keep the incision sealed. Should the incision require a suture to be placed for proper sealing, it is generally removed within the first week following surgery.
Recovery from surgery is generally very quick, with most patients achieving noticeably better vision within the first 24 hours of the procedure. Patients are generally asked to use different types of drops several times daily for the first few weeks after surgery. It is important that during the first seven post-operative days, patients refrain from strenuous activity such as lifting heavy objects, generally anything over 10-15 pounds. Patients should also refrain from rubbing their eyes during the first few weeks following surgery.
If glasses are required following surgery to achieve the best possible vision, either for close up work, such as reading or for distance purposes, these will be prescribed three to four weeks after surgery.
Some cataract patients experience cloudy vision months, or even years, after the cataract procedure. This condition is caused by a "film" that develops behind the intraocular lens. A YAG (Yttrium Aluminum Garnet) capsulotomy is performed to restore the refraction of light reaching the retina. It is a painless procedure which takes just minutes to perform. There are no activity restrictions following the procedure. Once the YAG laser treatment is perfomed, the film will not return.
For more information, please contact our surgical coordinator at 304-598-3301.
*As with any surgical procedure there are risks along with benefits. It is important to discuss your surgical procedure with your surgeon to fully understand the risks and benefits.