Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract. There are no medications, eye drops, exercises or glasses that will remove the visual burden of cataracts once they have formed. Surgical removal of the cataract is indicated when the visual impairment due to cataracts limits the patient’s activities of daily life.
The goal of surgery is to replace the cloudy lens with a permanent, transparent, intraocular lens, made of a specialized plastic. Once the cataract is removed, it cannot return. In addition to restoring clarity to the patient’s vision, the surgeon has the ability to chose any strength intraocular lens to correct for any underlying refractive error the patient may have had throughout life.
Prior to the surgery, a series of precise measurements taken using laser technology and theoretic calculations are done to aid the surgeon in selecting the desired lens power. Despite the precision of the measurements, there is no absolute guarantee of the final refractive result. There are many factors that go into the patient’s post-operative visual acuity, including final position of the intraocular lens, individual healing and scarring patterns and slight irregularities in an individual patient’s pre-operative calculations.
Cataract surgery is performed one eye at a time, and the two eyes are usually separated by serval weeks. The surgery is done in an operating room, either at a hospital or in an outpatient surgical center. The surgeon uses an operating microscope and microsurgical instruments to perfume the surgery. A small incision is made into the eye of the eye and specialized instruments are used to fragment and suction the cloudy lens from the eye. The back membrane of the lens (called the posterior capsule) is left in place and the plastic intraocular lens implant will be placed inside the capsular bag. The incision is made in such a precise way that usually, no sutures are required at the end of the case.
At Eye Consultants of Silicon Valley, the Femtosecond laser can be used to assist the surgeon during the cataract surgery. The Femtosecond laser uses a highly refined light beam to precisely measure tissue depths, cut tissue, vaporize surfaces, create tissue planes, stimulate the immune system and create thermal effects, such as coagulation.
While over 98% of cataract surgeries improve vision, a small number of patients may have problems and/or complications. Infections, bleeding, swelling, lens dislocation, swelling and retinal detachment may affect your vision.