Cataract surgery is a type of microsurgery – the surgeon uses a microscope to see what he is doing. The cloudy cataract lens is removed and replaced with a permanent, clear lens implant to restore the clarity and focusing power of the eye.
Everything is carried out delicately inside the eye by working through tiny incisions measuring 0.25mm and 2.7mm at the front of the eye. A small probe delivers ultrasound energy to soften the cataract and gently remove it.
The fine membrane at the back of the cataract is left in place and is used to hold the implant lens in position. The implant lens is rolled up to fit it through the micro incision and then unfolded gently once inside the eye. The incisions are so small that they heal themselves, without stitches.
Cataract surgery is normally carried out under local anaesthetic (awake). Some people are worried about being able to lie flat or still or about coughing during the operation – do not worry, a way around these concerns can always be found. Occasionally there are good reasons to have a general anaesthetic (asleep) or to stay overnight and these can easily be arranged. Should both eyes require surgery, an interval of one week is usually sufficient for the first eye to recover.