Is Cataract Surgery a Refractive Surgery?

When cataracts form in the eye, they can become a significant obstruction to your vision. In more severe cases, cataracts that are left untreated can even lead to blindness. But thankfully, there is a simple solution – Cataract Surgery.

Cataracts are a natural part of the eye’s ageing process and so are extremely common. In fact, estimates show that up to 42% of people aged 75 and over in the UK. As the only effective treatment option for cataracts, Cataract Surgery has become one of the most commonly performed procedures in the world.

But that doesn’t mean that there is just one type of cataract surgery available. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the general basis of the procedure as well as the difference between standard cataract surgery and refractive cataract surgery.

What are Cataracts?

Cataracts are cloudy obstructions that form in the eyes’ lenses. They develop as the proteins in the lens begin to break down and clump together. Eventually, this leads to the formation of a cataract which continues to worsen over time. Cataracts can affect one or both eyes.

This results in your once clear lens becoming clouded, obstructing your vision and even affecting the eye’s ability to focus efficiently. Early-stage cataracts usually don’t have a significant impact on vision and this can often be corrected with the help of glasses or contact lenses. However, as the cataract develops, most patients will require surgery to remove it.

How Does Cataract Surgery Work?

Cataract Surgery, as we know it today, has been used for decades to safely and effectively treat cataracts. It works by removing the cataract from the eye via small incisions (which can be made using a scalpel or a precision laser) in the surface of the eye.

Once the surgeon has gained access to the cataract inside the eye, they use a probe to apply ultrasonic waves that break up the cloudy lens. The broken-down lens can then be removed from the eye and replaced with an artificial one – known as an intraocular lens (IOL).

Is Cataract Surgery a Refractive Surgery?

While all cataract surgeries are designed to primarily address the formation of cataracts, some can also correct other issues. When this is the case, standard cataract surgery can become refractive cataract surgery.

Refractive Cataract Surgery

Standard cataract surgery is performed when only the cataract is being addressed. This means that the cloudy lens is replaced with a standard IOL – that is, a lens that has the ability to focus at one distance. As a result, patients may still require exterior visual aids such as glasses or contact lenses in order to achieve the best visual acuity.

In contrast, refractive cataract surgery replaces the eye’s natural lens with a “premium” IOL. These types of intraocular lenses are able to correct common refractive errors such as myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), and astigmatism. The ability to address both the formation of cataracts and the present refractive error in one treatment can greatly reduce the patient’s dependence on glasses and/or contact lenses.

The type of IOL used depends entirely on the patient being treated. At an eye assessment prior to your surgery, your surgeon will talk you through your options and recommend the right approach for you.

At London Vision Clinic, we are able to offer a complete range of commercially available IOLs. This means we can select the perfect lens option for every patient’s unique requirements, based on lens size, shape, and refractive error.

If you have any more questions regarding Cataract Surgery and our treatment options, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our friendly clinic coordinators. Alternatively, Book a – No-Obligation Consultation today.