A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens of the human eye. The human lens normally works to help focus light onto the retina inside of the eye to make vision. The human lens grows and changes throughout life; usually, this is correctable with a change in glasses prescription. However, cataracts may be cloudy enough where surgery is needed to improve vision.
Cataract surgery is performed as a short outpatient procedure, either in a hospital or ambulatory surgery center. The patient receives medications in the form of eye drops to dilate the pupil to allow for access to the clouded lens to be removed. Patients are traditionally given topical anesthesia to numb the eye, along with an intravenous medication for sedation. Once the eye is numb, two tiny incisions are created in the ocular surface to allow instruments to be placed inside of the eye. The shell holding the lens is opened, the cataract broken in small pieces inside the eye, then vacuumed out to leave an empty shell in which a clear artificial lens implant can then be placed. The patient receives both intraocular and topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to facilitate healing.
Postoperative follow up consists of short office visits to check vision, eye pressure, and short clinical examination, along with instructions on how to modify postoperative eye drops to optimize vision. Every patient is different, and only your eye care professional will be able to help you decide if cataract surgery is right for you.
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Watch this short educational video about cataract surgery