Cataracts develop as part of the natural aging process within the eye. Currently, there are no medications, eye drops or exercises that can prevent a cataract from forming. Cataract surgery is the only way to remove a cataract that is causing visual problems. When cataracts become visually significant and begin to interfere with your normal daily tasks, cataract surgery may be considered.
Prior to surgery, a series of eye drops are instilled to dilate the pupil. A local anesthetic is used to numb the eye. Also, a mild sedative is administered intravenously to make the patient more relaxed and comfortable during surgery.
During cataract surgery, a small incision is made near the outer edge of the cornea. A small instrument is used to remove the front portion of the capsule to access the cataract. An ultrasonic probe is used to break up the cataract using ultrasonic waves. This technique is referred to as phacoemulsification. Once the cataract is broken up into tiny lens fragments, these fragments are suctioned out of the capsule and removed from the eye. In most cases, an intraocular lens is then oriented into the empty lens capsule. This lens has special arms that hold it in place.
In most cases, the surgical wound is so small that it does not require the use of stitches, but sutures are placed if needed for safety. After surgery, a patch is placed over the operative eye. The patch will remain in place until it is removed in the office the day after surgery. At that time, a postoperative eye drop regimen will be initiated.