Cataract surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that is typically performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthesia. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes or less to complete and usually includes the implant of an artificial lens to replace the natural lens of the eye. While there are non-surgical methods that can be used to delay surgery, especially when the cataract is fairly new, the only effective cataract treatment is surgery.
Types of Cataract Surgery
Currently, there are two approaches to cataract surgery that are being used. They are:
Phacoemulsification, also known as phaco, involves inserting a probe into a small incision made on the side of the cornea. The probe emits ultrasound waves that cause the lens to break into smaller fragments, which are then removed by suction. The thin outer membrane of the lens remains in tact.
Extracapsular cataract extraction requires a larger incision in the cornea so that the lens may be removed in one solid piece. This procedure is usually performed when it is determined that the cataract is unable to be broken up by the phacoemulsification procedure.
The Cataract Surgery Procedure
Patients are asked to follow certain instructions prior to surgery. At the surgical facility, drops are placed into the eye to dilate the pupil. Depending on the condition of the cataract, either the phacoemulsification or extracapsular procedure will be performed.
Once the natural lens has been removed, an artificial lens, also known as an intraocular lens or IOL, is implanted. The IOL is a clear plastic lens that focuses light onto the retina, improving vision. Some people with eye disease or other medical issues are unable to have an IOL implanted. Soft contact lenses or magnification glasses might provide an alternative.
Post-Operative Cataract Surgery Care
Patients return home on the same day, but need an escort. Restrictions on activities will be provided by the doctor. Healing takes time and medication may be prescribed to prevent infection and control eye pressure. After the eye is fully healed, vision will be re-evaluated.
Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery- LenSx® Laser
The LenSx® Laser from Alcon is the first femtosecond laser to receive FDA approval for use in cataract surgery.
The LenSx Laser offers three-dimensional, high resolution images that map the unique eyes of each patient. These images, combined with the computer-captured measurements and information about the eyes, allow the surgeon to achieve greater accuracy, precision and customization than ever before.
The LenSx Laser is optimized with true image guidance, helping the surgeon determine the best location and dimensions for incisions. The bladeless femtosecond laser pulses to create incisions in the lens capsule, crystalline lens and cornea with a high level of accuracy. The LenSx Laser is an effective technological advancement that ensures the highest level of precision throughout every step of the cataract surgical procedure.