Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed. It is a very quick and safe surgery and is relatively painless. Two types of anesthetic are generally used, those being an eye drop numbing agent or an injection given near the eye that numbs and blocks all pain in the region of the eye.
Before the surgery the physician measures the cornea and the length of the patient's eye to determine the proper power of lens implant needed for successful completion of surgery.
Once measurements are completed and the eye region is numb surgery can begin. The old clouded cataracts lens is removed and a new artificial one is implanted. The entire procedure normally takes less than an hour and is an outpatient procedure.
Micro surgical techniques have enhanced the outcome of cataracts surgery and enabled recovery time and dependence on post surgery corrective lenses to decrease dramatically. Two types of cataracts surgery are Phacoemulsification and Extracapsular extraction. Phacoemulsification leaves the outer-most layer of the eye's lens capsule in tact and removes the cataracts through a small, approximately 1/8 inch, incision where the cornea meets the conjunctiva. (The conjunctiva is the membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner part of the eyelid.) The surgeon then inserts a needle probe and uses ultrasound waves to emulsify (break apart) the cataracts and suction to remove the broken parts.
Extracapsular extraction requires a slightly bigger incision and is performed when the cataracts is too hard or advanced to be emulsified by sound waves. The lens capsule is opened and the nucleus is removed in one piece and the softer lens capsule is vacuumed out, leaving the lens capsule in tact for support of the new lens.
Once the cataracts has been removed a clear lens is put in its place. This lens is called an intraocular lens (IOL), is usually made of silicone or acrylic, and becomes a part of your eye. Some IOLs are rigid and require sutures, but many are flexible and can be folded and enable the use of smaller, self-sealing incisions. The shape of self-sealing incision takes into account the fluid in the eye, and when the cut is made, the shape of the incision creates a flap and seals itself shut. The benefits of this type of incision are proven by shorter surgery time, less recovery time, less vision adjustment time after lens insertion and less discomfort after surgery.