Cataract surgery involves removing the natural, now cloudy, lens of the eye, and putting a clear artificial lens in its place. The new intraocular lens, or IOL, helps to bend and focus light. IOL’s are generally made out of silicone or acrylic. Learn more about cataracts here.
There are now many choices for IOLs that your surgeon can discuss with you in depth. These include:
Multifocal or Extended Depth of Focus IOLs
These types of lenses are designed to help you focus both at near and at distance. This is a great option for patients who have a desire to need glasses very little. Your surgeon will help you decide whether this is a good option for you.
Toric (Astigmatism Correcting) IOLs
Toric IOL’s are designed to correct astigmatism, or an abnormal curvature of the cornea (the front part of the eye). You may have been told you have astigmatism before when getting your glasses or contacts. If our testing reveals a significant amount of astigmatism, we often recommend the toric IOL.
Monofocal (Standard) IOLs
This is the most commonly implanted lens and is covered by most insurances. With this lens, most people can achieve fairly good distance vision but would require glasses for reading after surgery.
With monofocal IOLs, there is also the option for monovision, where one eye would see better far away and the other eye would see better up close.
Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery
One of the newest technologies available is laser assisted cataract surgery. The laser used performs many of the steps that the surgeon typically does by hand with a blade. A customized treatment plan is made for each patient’s eye using the computer programs built into the laser. Use of the laser often allows for faster healing and superior precision and accuracy. Laser assisted cataract surgery is also an excellent option for treating astigmatism at the time of surgery. Your surgeon can discuss whether use of the laser is a good option for your eye.
What can I expect with cataract surgery?
Before Surgery: Prior to surgery, you will meet with your surgeon in the office for a “pre-operative visit.” At this time, we will take measurements of the eye and help you decide what type of new lens (IOL) would be best for you. You will be prescribed some eye drops to start taking three days before surgery is scheduled. These drops are used to help prevent infection and decrease inflammation after surgery. We can answer any and all questions you have about your upcoming surgery at that visit.
The Day of Surgery: You will be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight prior to surgery. You will arrive at the surgery center about 1.5-2 hours prior to your scheduled surgery time. The eye will be numbed and dilated with several drops. You will also be given medication through an IV to make you comfortable and relieve any anxiety. You will be awake for surgery but should be comfortable and without pain. The surgery itself generally takes 10-15 minutes, or slightly longer for more complicated cases. Once surgery is complete, you will be taken to a post-operative recovery area for about 30 minutes prior to being discharged to home.
After Surgery: Generally, we place sunglasses over the eyes after surgery to decrease your light sensitivity and protect the eyes. Most patients do not require a patch over the operative eye. You will start your post-operative drop regimen later in the day after getting home. A protective eye shield will be placed over the operative eye at night time. We will then see you the day after surgery to ensure everything is healing appropriately. Most of the healing happens in the first week after surgery but it can take up to a month to completely heal from cataract surgery. We will be monitoring the healing of the eye closely over this time.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, surgery in each eye is typically done 2-6 weeks apart to allow healing of the first eye.