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Cataracts - Surgery

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Surgery choices

There are two main types of cataract surgery. They are both done in an outpatient center. The decision about which one to use depends on what kind of cataract you have and how much experience the surgeon has with each type of surgery.

  • Phacoemulsification (small-incision surgery). In this type of surgery, the incisions are small, and sound waves (ultrasound) are used to break up the lens into small pieces. This is the most common method of doing cataract surgery. Your doctor may use a laser to help with part of this surgery.
  • Standard extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE). In this type of surgery, the lens and the front portion of the lens capsule wrapped around the lens is opened. The lens is then carefully removed in one piece.

The most common problem after cataract surgery is clouding of the posterior lens capsule (called aftercataract) within 5 years after surgery. This clouding is usually not a serious problem. And it is easy to treat with a laser surgery (Nd:YAG laser posterior capsulotomy) if it occurs.

What to think about

Just because you have a cataract doesn't mean you need to have it removed. Only you can decide whether cataracts are affecting your vision and your life enough for you to have surgery. Learn what to ask about cataract surgery before deciding whether to have the surgery.

For adults, cataract surgery is almost always elective and can be done at your convenience. The surgeon, or someone familiar with routine surgical practices, will usually be available for any follow-up exams and treatment.

Surgery may be advisable if you want to continue to drive a car. If you live in a retirement home or assisted-living facility, you may decide to use vision aids and avoid surgery.

If you do not have another eye condition, such as glaucoma or problems with your retina, your chances of seeing better after cataract surgery are very good. But you may still need reading glasses or glasses for near vision.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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