Cataract extraction and lens implantation is an elective surgery that involves the surgical removal of the natural lens of the eye followed by the implantation of an artificial intraocular lens. Repositioning or removal of the lens after implantation is rarely necessary. The surgery itself takes an average 15 minutes and recovery time will usually be 1-8 weeks.
The purpose and benefit of cataract surgery is to remove the cloudy lens of the eye in order to improve the quality of vision. Cataract surgery cannot improve vision damaged by retinal changes, glaucoma or other eye diseases.
There is no currently available alternative to surgery for the treatment of cataracts. You may, however, choose not to have cataract surgery and continue with your present or progressing state of vision. The alternative to implantation of an intraocular lens is the use of strong-powered glasses of contact lenses.
This is your right (or left eye) before the development of a cataract. The lens is clear and focuses the image onto the retinal “sensor” or “film”.
This is the eye after the cataract has developed. A cataract is a filmed area in the lens of the eye. You can see how it interferes with the focus onto the retina so that the image is blurred.
Cataract surgery is performed under a surgical microscope using microsurgical instruments. The microscope is mounted on the ceiling and has foot-pedal controls that can adjust the focus, zoom, position, and light intensity.
Looking through the microscope, a keyhole incision (usually not requiring a suture) is made in the wall of the eye at the edge of the coloured part of the eye at where the cornea and sclera meet.
Through that incision, a circular opening is made in front lining layer (or capsule) of the lens.
The lens is then removed with the aid of an ultrasound probe (which vibrates 40,000 times a second). It breaks the cataract into tiny microscopic pieces that are emulsified and gently aspirated out of the eye. This method of cataract removal is considered the least traumatic to the eye.
The new lens unfolds into position from a specifically designed injector.
The new lens stays in the eye permanently and takes over the focusing role of the original lens that it replaced.
Capsulotomy is a laser procedure which is occasionally necessary after cataract surgery to clear build-up of debris or opacity behind the new intraocular lens. This can occur months or even years after the original cataract operation. One would notice some glare and loss of clarity and the opacity can be seen at the slit lamp microscope.
The intraocular lens itself will never become cloudy. The opacity is located behind the intraocular lens and is due to migration of lens cells from the original lens. There is no preventative treatment for this, but it is easily rectified with a laser beam.
The laser procedure is painless and is carried out at the clinic. Generally, only a single treatment is required.