Cataract Surgery

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. David Evans

close up of female brown eye with a cataract

On this page: Benefits of Surgery | Are You a Candidate? | Types of Surgery | Risks En Español

Cataract Surgery, More Popular than Ever

If your vision has become cloudy, colors seem less vivid or you find yourself needing brighter light for reading, you may be a prime candidate for cataract surgery. During cataract surgery, your cloudy cataractous lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens to lift the clouds and give your clear vision once again.

Recent advancements have made cataract surgery more popular than ever. Modern cataract surgery can do much more than just replace your cloudy lens. Today’s techniques are safer, far more comfortable and can correct your nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism. In fact, you may even be able to rid yourself of glasses or contacts altogether.

Watch a brief video on cataract surgery then continue reading below for more information, including risks and candidacy.

Benefits of Cataract Surgery

Modern cataract surgery has a number of advantages over traditional cataract surgery, including the following:

  • In many cases, no needle or stitches required
  • Small, self-sealing incisions
  • Eye drops for anesthesia
  • Less postoperative astigmatism
  • Reduce or eliminate your dependence on glasses

If you undergo cataract surgery with laser technology, the procedure may be even safer and more reliable. Talk to your eye surgeon to learn more.

Who Is a Candidate for Cataract Surgery?

If you are over the age of 45 with cloudy vision and are experiencing any other cataract symptoms that are affecting your life, such as night vision problems or the need for brighter light to read, you are likely a candidate for cataract surgery. However, not all cataracts need to be removed. Speak with your surgeon to find out if you are a candidate and which procedure would best suit you. During your consultation you can discuss your various treatment options and how it will impact the cost of cataract surgery.

Types of Cataract Surgery

There are several types of cataract surgery, each distinguished from the next by the techniques and technology used. Sometimes they are combined.

Phaco Cataract Surgery. During this procedure your surgeon makes small incisions and inserts a probe that breaks up the clouded lens with ultrasonic waves (called phacoemulsification). The pieces are then suctioned out and an artificial lens is inserted. No sutures or needle are required.

Extracapusular Cataract Surgery. If you are not a candidate for phaco cataract surgery, or if your cataracts are at an advanced stage, your surgeon may recommend extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE). This procedure involves several incisions instead of just one, which are larger than the incision used in phaco cataract surgery.

Refractive Cataract Surgery. This refers to cataract surgery that not only replaces your clouded lens but also corrects for nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism. This is accomplished through the use of premium intraocular lenses (IOLs) that correct your refractive errors.

Laser Cataract Surgery. During this procedure, a laser is used for certain steps. The use of a laser may provide for increased precision, reduced surgery time, shorter recovery and better results.

Risks & Complications

Cataract surgery is generally a very safe procedure. Nearly 100 percent of patients experience improved vision and are satisfied with the results. However, all surgical procedures have potential risks and complications. Potential risks of cataract surgery include:

  • Retinal detachment
  • Endophthalmitis (severe infection)
  • Cystoid macular edema (blood vessels leak fluid into the retina and cysts form; may involve loss of central vision)
  • Dissatisfaction with results

Ask your surgeon for more information on the potential risks and complications of cataract surgery.