Cataract surgery is a procedure to remove the lens of your eye and, in most cases, replace it with an artificial lens. Normally, the lens of your eye is clear. A cataract causes the lens to become cloudy, which eventually affects your vision.
Cataract surgery is performed by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) on an outpatient basis, which means you don’t have to stay in the hospital after the surgery. Cataract surgery can be done traditionally using ultrasound energy to remove the cloudy lens or it can be removed with laser-assisted technology. Cataract surgery is very common and is generally a safe procedure.
Complications after cataract surgery are uncommon, and most can be treated successfully.
Cataract surgery risks include:
Dislocation of artificial lens
Loss of vision
This happens when the back of the lens capsule — the part of the lens that wasn’t removed during surgery and that now supports the lens implant — becomes cloudy and impairs your vision.
Your risk of complications is greater if you have another eye disease or a serious medical condition.
To prepare for your cataract surgery, you may be asked to:
Undergo tests. A week or so before your surgery, your doctor performs a painless ultrasound test to measure the size and shape of your eye. This helps determine the right type of lens implant (intraocular lens, or IOL).
Stop taking certain medications. Your doctor may advise you to temporarily stop taking any medication that could increase your risk of bleeding during the procedure.
Use eyedrops to reduce infection risk. Antibiotic eyedrops may be prescribed for use one or two days before the surgery.
Fast before surgery. You may be instructed not to eat or drink anything 12 hours before the procedure.
Prepare for your recovery. Normally you can go home on the same day as your surgery, but you won’t be able to drive, so arrange for a ride home. Also arrange for help around home, if necessary, because your doctor may limit activities, such as bending and lifting, for about a week after your surgery.
Before surgery, you and your eye doctor will discuss which type of intraocular lens (IOL) might work best for you and your lifestyle.
IOLs are made of plastic, acrylic or silicone. Some IOLs block ultraviolet light.
However, many IOLs are flexible, allowing a smaller incision that requires few or no stitches.
Some of the types of lenses available include:
Fixed-focus monofocal. This type of lens has a single focus strength for distance vision. Reading will generally require the use of reading glasses.
Accommodating-focus monofocal. Although these lenses only have a single focusing strength, they can respond to eye muscle movements and shift focus on to near or distant objects.
Multifocal. These lenses are similar to glasses with bifocal or progressive lenses. Different areas of the lens have different focusing strengths, allowing for near, medium and far vision.
Astigmatism correction (toric). If you have a significant astigmatism, a toric lens can help correct your vision.