A cataract is the clouding of the natural crystalline lens in your eye. It is a natural part of the aging process and is a common cause of gradual deterioration in our eyesight as we get older. If a cataract is causing visual symptoms that are interfering with your life, cataract surgery may be needed to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear, artificial lens that can significantly improve the quality of your vision.
What happens during cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is performed by an experienced cataract surgeon as a day surgery. Before the procedure, your anaesthetist will give you a light sedative to make you feel calm and relaxed. Anaesthetic eye drops will be used to numb your eye.
A very small opening, less than 2.5mm wide, is created to access the cataract. A circular opening in the front of the lens, known as a capsulorrhexis, is made in the capsular bag, which is a thin membrane that surrounds the cataract.
An ultrasound probe is then used to break down and aspirate the cataract using high frequency ultrasound energy in a process known as phacoemulsification. Once the cataract has been removed, what remains is a thin clear, capsular bag. An artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL), is then folded and implanted into the capsular bag, through the same incision. This tiny incision is self-sealing and does not require any sutures.
This procedure takes approximately 15 minutes, but you should expect to be at the day surgery for at least 2 hours to allow for recovery from the sedation. We recommend that you have someone with you to drive you home.