How Does Cataract Surgery Work?

Cataract Surgery is the only solution to cataracts.

When cataracts develop, the only way to get rid of them is through surgery. If left untreated, cataracts can eventually lead to blindness. So, how does Cataract Surgery work?

Cataracts affect the spherical lenses in our eyes. Over time, they worsen, forming a cloudy obstruction that can lead to significant vision impairment.

Cataract Surgery involves removing the cataract-affected lens and replacing it with an artificial one known as an intraocular lens (IOL). Prior to surgery, the patient is administered numbing eye drops.

To remove a cataract, the surgeon will:
  • Create a small incision on the surface of the eye;
  • Insert a small probe to apply ultrasonic waves which break up the cloudy lens;
  • Draw out the cloudy lens from the lens capsule;
  • Insert the artificial lens into the lens capsule.

Replacing the Lens

The primary aim of Cataract Surgery is to remove the obstruction from the eye. Therefore, Cataract Surgery in the NHS involves simply replacing the natural lens with a standard monofocal IOL whereby all patients will still require glasses post-op in certain situations.

In Refractive Cataract Surgery, premium IOLs are used to correct common errors, including myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness), and astigmatism. The best type of lens for each patient, based on size, shape and refractive error, is determined through an eye assessment before the surgery.

Cataract Surgery Recovery

Cataract Surgery is considered a minor procedure. This means that only local anaesthetic is required (patients don’t need to be put to sleep) and patients can go home the same day.

Some side effects, including discomfort, watery eyes and grittiness, may occur but these tend to resolve themselves within a few days. Immediately after Cataract Surgery, patients will be fitted with an eye shield to protect the eye from anything that could cause complications.

Recovery from Cataract Surgery is relatively speedy with most patients able to see clearly within a few days. However, it can take a few weeks to fully recover from the procedure.