Cataract surgery is a quick and painless outpatient procedure that removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with a man-made synthetic lens, made of either acrylic or silicone. Approximately 3 million cataract surgeries are performed in the United States every year, making it the most common elective surgical procedure performed in this country. With more than a 97% success rate, it is also the most successful surgery.
In a typical cataract procedure, IV sedation and topical anesthetic drops are used to completely relax the patient and ensure a painless operation. Initially, a tiny micro incision is made on the outside part of the cornea. From here, more anesthesia is placed in the eye. The lens is removed by sculpting it into parts using pulsating vibrations and suction from a special micro instrument known as a phacoemulsification hand piece. Once the lens is removed, a folded synthetic lens is placed into the same location as the old lens. This new lens gently unfolds into place on its own. At this point the procedure is complete and the patient is sent home with a taped shield over the operated eye, with instructions to be seen in the office the next day. No sutures or needles are required for this procedure, and most cases last less than 30 minutes. Antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops are used for several weeks afterwards. Usually the patient can see noticeable improvement in their vision the next day.