A  A  A   Print
Why Doctors Remove Cataracts

Why Doctors Remove Cataracts

Perhaps the first thing you'll notice is a glare from oncoming headlights at night. Usually, a haze surrounds the lights.

Then, you're likely to find reading more challenging. It's harder to see the letters, and they tend to blur together.

This is what happens when you develop cataracts.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens, a clear, soft gelatinous structure behind the pupil that works much like a camera lens. The leading cause of cataracts is aging. Other contributing factors include:

  • Genetics

  • Sunlight

  • Metabolic diseases such as diabetes

  • Some medications, including lengthy use of corticosteroids such as cortisone or prednisone

When cataracts affect your ability to function, it's time to consider surgery.

Many people think surgeons take the cataract off the eye. Actually, the entire lens is removed and a synthetic lens, called an IOL or intraocular lens, is implanted. This new lens includes a prescription, much like eyeglasses. Still, you'll probably need prescription glasses, especially for reading.

In most cases, patients receive a sedative before surgery but remain awake throughout the procedure. Some surgeons give numbing injections around the eye, but anesthetic drops can be used instead.

Once the anesthetic is working, the surgeon makes an incision in the eye to help reach the cataract and implant the new lens. The surgeon usually uses ultrasound energy to liquefy the cataract-clouded lens (phacoemulsification). That lets them remove the remains of the lens through a tube in a suction-like process called aspiration.

The painless procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes per eye. Complex cases are unusual but require more care.

If both eyes have cataracts, you're usually operated on at different times, generally weeks apart. This is done for your safety.

This is done to ensure that the first eye has healed without complications before performing surgery on the other eye. Patients go home the same day and wear a patch or shield to protect the eye. Then the eye is examined the next day, a week after the surgery, and a month later.

 

 
Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.