What Happens During Cataract Surgery?

grandfather sitting with grandchildren

Have you lost your vision to cataracts? While this can be a frustrating process, cataracts don’t have to take your eyesight for the rest of your life.

Cataract surgery can restore your vision to pre-cataract levels. And, for some people, depending on the quality of your eyesight before cataracts, it could give you the best sight you’ve ever had.

There are a few critical steps during the procedure that restore your vision. Keep reading to learn more about what happens during cataract surgery.

What is a Cataract?

Cataracts occur as proteins in your natural lenses begin to break down. As the proteins deteriorate, they clump together and form a white cloud in your lens.

After you’ve had cataracts for long enough, the clumping will get so thick that light will no longer be able to pass through to your retina.

At this point, cataracts are causing vision loss. When they interfere with your daily life, it’s time for cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery removes your cataract-afflicted lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens or IOL. The IOL gives you your eyesight back.

Your Milky Lens Gets Removed

Cataracts grow inside your natural lens, so removing the cataract from the lens is impossible. To give you your eyesight back, your surgeon needs to take your entire natural lens out.

Removing your natural lens is the first part of cataract surgery. To take it out, your surgeon begins by giving you numbing eyedrops.

These drops ensure you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. Once the anesthetic drops take effect, your surgeon begins the procedure.

First, they create an incision in your cornea, the outer layer of your eye. This incision gives them access to the lens which sits behind it.

When they can reach the lens, they break it into small pieces using an ultrasound probe. Breaking the lens is necessary because it makes it easier to remove from your eye.

Your surgeon takes the lens out using light suction, creating a cavity where it was. Once this space is open, they can fill it with your IOL.

What is an IOL?

An intraocular lens or IOL is an artificial lens that replaces your natural lens. IOLs refract light that enters your eye onto your retina, giving you clear vision.

They also cannot develop cataracts, so you will keep your clear eyesight for the rest of your life. Before your cataract surgery, you and your eye doctor will discuss the different IOLs available.

They come in a wide range of capabilities. The most basic is a monofocal or standard IOL that refract light at one distance.

Most people correct their distance vision with a monofocal. That means they still need glasses to see objects close to their eyes.

Besides monofocal IOLs, which have limited capabilities, there are premium IOLs. Premium IOLs can give you clear vision at multiple distances.

If you would like to avoid ever needing glasses again, you need a premium IOL. The most high-end premium IOLs could end your need for glasses altogether.

Less sophisticated premium IOLs can still limit that need. But, you may need a visual aid for specific tasks like reading fine print or using the computer.

There is an IOL for any level of vision. Insurance and Medicare cover monofocal IOLs, but not premium IOLs.

Typically, you need to pay out of pocket for a premium IOL, but the enhanced vision they provide may be worth the cost. Your eye doctor will help you select the best IOL for your lifestyle and goals after cataract surgery.

Is it time for you to get your cataracts taken out? Schedule a cataract screening at Eye Physicians of Arizona in Glendale, AZ, to determine when you need to undergo cataract surgery!

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