Cataract Surgery : Boulder Eye Surgeons
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Cataract Surgery

ENLARGE TEXT

Cataract Surgery is the removal of the natural lens of the eye (also called “crystalline lens”) that has developed an opacification, which is referred to as a cataract. Following surgical removal of the natural lens, an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) implant is permanently inserted (eye surgeons say that the lens is “implanted”).

The surgical method that is most commonly used to remove cataracts in the United States is called Phacoemulsification (phaco). In phaco, the surgeon uses an ultrasonic needle to break up and liquefy (emulsify) the cataract so it can be removed through a very small incision. Earlier cataract surgery methods removed the lens in one piece. This required a larger incision and meant a longer healing time for patients. Breaking the lens up and removing it in sections allows surgeons to reduce the incision size significantly (from one-half inch to one-eighth of an inch) and allows patients to resume normal activities quickly.

Phacoemulsification Process
Phacoemulsification with a small handpiece allows the creation of a very small wound

Just as a camera cannot take a clear picture without a lens, the human eye cannot see clearly without a lens. Therefore, after the natural lens is removed, a foldable intraocular lens (IOL) implant is placed permanently inside the eye to help focus light onto the retina, or the “film” of the eye, to allow a much clearer image than without a lens implant. Unlike contact lenses, which must be removed, cleaned, and reinserted, the IOL remains in the eye after surgery. IOL implants have been used for almost 30 years and are very safe and effective.

 

Among the most worrisome complications following cataract surgery are infection (endophthalmitis) and retinal detachment. Fortunately, these complications are rare. Vision returns quickly following cataract surgery and one can resume normal activities within a short period of time.

Intraocular Lens
An intraocular lens takes the place of the natural lens that has to be removed during cataract surgery

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