With cataract surgery, your eye's cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens implant (called an intraocular lens or IOL). Cataract surgery is often performed as an outpatient procedure and does not require an overnight hospital stay.
Before surgery, the length of your eye will be measured in what is called an A-scan, and the curve of your cornea will be measured in a technique called keratometry. These measurements help your ophthalmologist select the proper lens implant for your eye. You will also discuss the various lens options available to you.
If you have had previous LASIK or other laser vision correction, you can still have cataract surgery. In planning for cataract surgery, provide your ophthalmologist with the vision correction prescription you had before LASIK, if possible. This information will help your surgeon calculate the correct IOL prescription for you. Previous refractive surgery can make determination of the correct IOL more difficult and your vision prescription prior to refractive surgery can help the surgeon calculate the correct IOL power.
Medications & Cataract Surgery
If you are having cataract surgery, be sure to tell your ophthalmologist about all medications and nutritional supplements you are taking. If you currently use or have ever used alpha-blocker drugs for prostate problems, such as Flomax, Hytrin, Cadura or Uroxatral , tell your ophthalmologist. These medications may prevent your pupil from dilating properly during surgery. If your surgeon is aware that you have had these drugs, he or she can adjust their surgical technique to adapt as needed, allowing for a successful cataract removal procedure. You should also tell your ophthalmologist about any other sedative medications you are taking.
To reduce the risk of infection from surgery, your ophthalmologist may prescribe antibiotic eyedrops for you to use two days before surgery.
The most common procedure used for removing cataracts is called phacoemulsification. A small incision is made in the side of the cornea (the front part of your eye), your ophthalmologist inserts a tiny instrument that uses high-frequency ultrasound to break up the center of the cloudy lens and carefully suction it out.
After the cloudy lens has been removed, the surgeon will replace it with an intraocular lens (IOL) implant made of plastic, silicone or acrylic. This new, clear lens allows light to pass through and focus properly on the retina. The IOL becomes a permanent part of your eye. In most cases, the IOL is inserted behind the iris, the colored part of your eye, and is called a posterior chamber lens. Sometimes, the IOL must be placed in front of the iris. This is called an anterior chamber lens. When the IOL is in place, the surgeon closes the incision. Stitches are generally not required. After the surgery, your ophthalmologist. usually places a protective shield over your eye.
Visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology for more information on cataract and cataract surgery.