Nearly half of the population will experience a cataract by the age of 65

Cataract surgery is a medical procedure where the cloudy natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) implant. The new, permanent, lens provides the patient with clearer vision and restores focusing power. Metabolic changes to the natural lens fibers, known as the crystalline lens, can lead to the development of cataracts. This causes a loss of transparency which is restored when the artificial lens is inserted in the eye during cataract surgery.

There are several types of cataract eye surgery that can treat blurry vision, increase glare from lights, and other common symptoms of cataracts. Phacoemulsification, or Phaco, is the most common method used. It involves the use of an ultrasonic machine with a titanium or steel tip that vibrates at ultrasonic frequency. Conventional extracapsular cataract extraction, or ECCE, involves the manual extraction of the natural lens through an incision made in the cornea. Intracapsular cataract extraction, or ICCE, involves the removal of the lens in one piece. This technique has a higher risk of complications due to the large incision required to remove the lens.

In general, cataract eye surgery is recommended for most patients who have some form of vision loss that is symptomatic from cataracts. Good candidates for cataract surgery include those with an eye test of 20/40 or worse due to cataracts. These individuals often have a condition that glasses and other visual aids will not treat. Candidates may also have difficulties in low light, be at risk for injuries or falls, and have overall difficulty with activities in their daily life due to loss of vision. Cataract surgery can be tailored to individuals based on previous eye problems and coexisting medical problems. The surgery itself is generally safe, performed under minimal sedation, and takes less than 30 minutes to complete.

Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that will require several post-procedure visits to ensure improvement of vision. Cataract surgery recovery is relatively painless but may require several days before your vision begins to improve. Complete healing should occur within eight weeks. Cataract eye surgery successfully restores vision in the majority of patients who undergo the treatment. It’s important to always follow your surgeon’s specific instructions on post-care prior to discharge to ensure a quick and painless recovery.

Nearly half of the population will experience a cataract by the age of 65, while nearly everyone over the age of 75 has already had one or more. If cataracts are interfering with your vision, comfort, or daily activities, it may be time to discuss surgery with your physician.