A guide to cataract surgery

13 March 2017
 Categories: , Blog


The term 'cataract' is used by medical professionals to describe a clouding of the eye's lens. This issue is the result of protein in the lens forming clumps. Read on to learn more about the surgical treatment used to address this condition.

What is the purpose of cataract surgery?

The primary aim of cataract surgery is to extract the lens that has developed a cataract and put an artificial one in its place. This helps to address the sight problems associated with this condition, such as blurring or doubling of vision, impaired night vision and an increased sensitivity to light. Because the cataract-inflicted lens is replaced with an artificial one (usually made from either acrylic or silicone), the procedure also prevents another cataract from developing in the treated eye in the future.

What preparations need to be made before the procedure?

A person who has been referred for cataract surgery will usually undergo a series of tests in preparation for the procedure. They will have the shape and size of their eye checked by an ophthalmologist, so as to ensure that the appropriately-sized artificial lens is used during the operation. They may also get prescribed antibiotic eye drops and be instructed to take these during the days leading up to the surgery to help reduce the risk of infection. Additionally, if they are having the surgery carried out under general anaesthesia, their surgeon may ask them to fast for several hours before the operation.

What happens during the surgery?

Cataract surgery can be done under either general or local anaesthesia; however, the former is normally only used when the surgery is being carried out on a person who, as a result of anxiety or other mental health conditions, may find it distressing to stay awake throughout the procedure. General anaesthesia may also be the more suitable choice in cases where the patient who is being treated is allergic to local anaesthetic.

One of the most popular surgical techniques used for the removal of cataracts is known as 'phacoemulsification'. The process begins with the surgeon making a very small incision in the cornea. They then place a tiny probe through this incision; the probe helps to break the cataract-afflicted lens into small pieces. The surgeon will then use another device to pull these pieces out of the eye. After this stage is complete, the new artificial lens is inserted and the incision is sealed. The entire procedure from start to finish rarely takes longer than an hour.