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A Step-By-Step Walkthrough of Cataract Removal Surgery

One of the most common causes of vision impairment and loss, a cataract is the clouding of the lens inside of the eye. It can cause vision loss that cannot be corrected with glasses or refractive surgery.

Although they may sound frightening, cataracts can be treated through surgery. The surgery can usually restore lost vision through the implantation of an artificial lens (called an intraocular lens, or IOL).

If you are confused about how cataract surgery works, or would just like to learn more in addition to the information in this article, we invite you to meet with Dr. Mast to have your cataracts examined.

Preparing For Surgery

Examining Your Eye for Candidacy

Dr. Mast will perform a comprehensive eye examination prior to the surgery to check the health of your eyes. This examination will help her evaluate whether or not you should have the surgery, as well as any risk factors you may be exposed to.

In addition, a refraction assessment is required in order to determine the amount of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism you have due to the cataract. Following the refraction, measurements of your eyes will be taken.

If everything looks good, we will refer you to a local ophthalmologist that will perform the procedure.

Choosing an IOL

An IOL, or intraocular lens, is an artificial lens used in place of the lens that is removed during the surgery. They allow your eye to continue focusing light and images on the retina. There are many types of lenses, such as:

  • Monofocal IOLs. The most commonly used implant, monofocal IOLs usually require part-time use of reading glasses.
  • Monovision IOLs. These types of IOLs decrease the need for reading glasses by creating monovision – When one eye can see objects clearly at a distance while the other can see objects that are near.
  • Crystalens and Trulign Toric IOLs. These premium IOLs correct presbyopia and other refractive errors more effectively than monofocal IOLs.

Once in place, an IOL does not have the ability to develop cataracts. Surgery is a permanent treatment.

Cataract Removal Procedures

This procedure is performed within a surgical center without the requirement of an overnight stay. The procedure can be performed one of two ways: conventional or with femtosecond lasers.

Regardless of the method used, all cataract removal procedures require an incision to be made on the eye to open the lens capsule. Inside the lens capsule rests the affected lens, which can then be detached from the capsule and removed appropriately.


By using an ultrasound device, the surgeon breaks up the clouded lens into small pieces and then removes the pieces via gentle suction.

Afterwards, the IOL is inserted into the lens capsule. The procedure is completed by the surgeon closing the incision, typically without stitches. A protective shield is placed over the patient’s eye to keep it safe during recovery.

Femtosecond Lasers

As an alternative to traditional scalpel-based techniques, laser-assisted cataract surgery makes use of a laser similar to the ones used in LASIK to perform the following actions:

  1. Creating the corneal incisions
  2. Removing the anterior capsule of the lens
  3. Fragmenting the cataract
  4. Creating peripheral corneal incisions (when needed) to correct astigmatism

The laser allows the surgeon to complete these tasks with more precision compared to them being completed manually, although both techniques have high rates of success when performed by a skilled surgeon. Due to the cost of the laser, this approach is significantly more expensive.

Recovery Process From Surgery

After the surgery, patients are not allowed to drive themselves home. Furthermore, they should not attempt to drive until their vision has been checked at a follow up appointment a day or two after surgery.

Medicated eye drops will be prescribed that are to be used several times a day for the following couple of weeks (a dropless version of the surgery exists, where medications are injected into the eye during surgery- your surgeon will specify the route they’ve chosen and why). The eye shield given to the patient must be worn while sleeping for up to a week after the surgery.

Patients eyes will also be extremely sensitive to light following the procedure. As such, a pair of sunglasses will be given to the patient to protect their eyes.

Things to Avoid

The following list is comprised of things you should avoid after the surgery for at least a week:

  • Strenuous activity and heavy lifting
  • Bending and exercising
  • Water that might enter your eye
  • Exposure to dust or other infection-causing contaminants

Specific instructions are given to each patient from their Optometrist and surgeon regarding steps that should be taken during recovery. The above should only be used as a guideline.

We Will Soon Be Removing Cataracts With Eye Drops?

A recent study of congenital cataracts has discovered that a molecule called lanosterol prevents cataracts from forming, thus keeping the human lens clear.

With this information, researchers have created eye drops containing lanosterol. Unfortunately, the eye drops do not yet work as well as surgery, but could potentially be an effective treatment method after further development.