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Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures

Cataract Surgery

Introduction

When the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy or opacified, it is called a cataract. Cataracts most commonly occur as part of the aging process, but may also be related to trauma, drugs or diabetes. When the cataract reaches a level at which it is impairing your vision, it can be surgically removed and replaced with an artificial lens made of silicone or acrylic. This artificial lens is known as an “intraocular lens” or “lens implant” – it is permanent and does not need to be replaced.

Cataracts are removed by microsurgery using a type of ultrasound called phacoemulsification. They are NOT removed by laser – this is a common misperception. Sometimes months or years after cataract surgery, the “capsule” which supports the intraocular lens becomes cloudy. This “posterior capsule opacification” CAN be treated by laser in a brief office procedure.

Cataract surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, and you will be at the hospital or surgicentre for 3-4 hours. The operation itself usually takes less than 30 minutes, and you will receive light sedation to make sure you are comfortable.