Cataract Surgery

This information was adapted from the National Eye Institute to help patients and their families search for general information.


What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging. Cataracts are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. It cannot spread from one eye to the other.

Are there other type of cataract?
Yes. Although most cataracts are related to aging, there are other types of cataract:

  • Secondary cataract. Cataracts can form after surgery for other eye problems, such as glaucoma. Cataracts also can develop in people who have other health problems, such as diabetes. Cataracts are sometimes linked to steroid use.
  • Traumatic cataract. Cataracts can develop after an eye injury, sometimes years later.
  • Congenital cataract. Some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood, often in both eyes. These cataracts may be so small that they do not affect vision. If they do, the lenses may need to be removed.
  • Radiation cataract. Cataracts can develop after exposure to some types of radiation.

cataract_vision_example_1 cataract_vision_example_2

Normal Lens                                                         Cataractous Lens

When are you most likely to have a cataract?
The term “age-related” is a little misleading. You don’t have to be a senior citizen to get this type of cataract. In fact, people can have an age-related cataract in their 40s and 50s. But during middle age, most cataracts are small and do not affect vision. It is after age 60 that most cataracts steal vision.The risk of cataract increases as you get older. Other risk factors for cataract include:

Certain diseases such as diabetes.
Personal behavior such as smoking and alcohol use.
The environment such as prolonged exposure to sunlight.

What are the symptoms of a cataract?
The most common symptoms of a cataract are:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision.
  • Colors seem faded.
  • Glare. Headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
  • Poor night vision.
  • Double vision or multiple images in one eye (this symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger).
  • Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses.

These symptoms also can be a sign of other eye problems. If you have any of these symptoms, call to schedule an appointment with Southern Eye Associates.

How is Cataract treated?
The symptoms of early cataract may be improved with new glasses, brighter lighting, antiglare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.

What is the Common type of cataract Surgery?
Phacoemulsification clear cornea sutureless cataract surgery is the most common type of cataract surgery performed.


  • Lens is removed by ultrasound probe through a sub 3 mm incision.


  • A new lens implant is inserted into the capsular bag.


  • Self sealing incision requires no stitches.


Are there are different types of lens Implats?
During cataract surgery, the eye’s clouded lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The visual outcome of the surgery depends on the type of implant that is inserted. Today there are multiple types of IOLs, each delivering a different performance profile based on how the lens is designed.

There are Standard implants which are fairly inexpensive; however, you will definitely need to wear glasses after surgery, even if you didn’t wear glasses before surgery. And there are now implants that correct astigmatism and other Deluxe lens implants that can now reduce or even eliminate the need for glasses. For that reason, some patients are now choosing to have surgery even before they develop cataract, which is then called a clear lens exchange.

The bottom line is that if you are happy with your vision and it doesn’t cause difficulties with reading, computer use, driving (day or night), working, or your active lifestyle, then you should postpone the surgery. If you want and need better vision for your activities right now, and would like to see more clearly, then it may be time to discuss cataract surgery with your doctor. They’re your eyes, and you decide what’s best.

What are the Risk of cataract surgery?
As with any surgery, cataract surgery poses risks, such as infection and bleeding. Before cataract surgery, your doctor may ask you to temporarily stop taking certain medications that increase the risk of bleeding during surgery. After surgery, you must keep your eye clean, wash your hands before touching your eye, and use the prescribed medications to help minimize the risk of infection. Serious infection can result in loss of vision.

Is cataract surgery effective?
Cataract removal is one of the most common operations performed in the United States. It also is one of the safest and most effective types of surgery. In about 90 percent of cases, people who have cataract surgery have better vision afterward.

What happens after surgery?
Itching and mild discomfort are normal after cataract surgery. Some fluid discharge is also common. Your eye may be sensitive to light and touch. If you have discomfort, contact Southern Eye Associates and your doctor will suggest treatment. After one or two days, moderate discomfort should disappear.

For a few days after surgery, your doctor may ask you to use eyedrops to help healing and decrease the risk of infection. Your doctor will instruct you about how to use eyedrops, how often to use them, and what effects they can have. You will need to wear an eye shield or eyeglasses to help protect your eye. Avoid rubbing or pressing on your eye.

When you are home, try not to bend from the waist to pick up objects on the floor. Do not lift any heavy objects. You can walk, climb stairs, and do light household chores.

In most cases, healing will be complete within eight weeks. Your doctor will schedule exams to check on your progress.

Can problems develop after surgery?
Problems after surgery are rare, but they can occur. These problems can include infection, bleeding, inflammation (pain, redness, swelling), loss of vision, double vision, and high or low eye pressure. With prompt medical attention, these problems can usually be treated successfully.

Sometimes the eye tissue that encloses the IOL becomes cloudy and may blur vision. This condition is called an after-cataract. An after-cataract can develop months or years after cataract surgery.

An after-cataract is treated with a laser. Your doctor uses a laser to make a tiny hole in the eye tissue behind the lens to let light pass through. This outpatient procedure is called a YAG laser capsulotomy. It is painless and rarely results in increased eye pressure or other eye problems. As a precaution, your doctor may give you eyedrops to lower your eye pressure before or after the procedure.

Further Reading on Cataract Surgery

What is Cataract Surgery?  Deluxe Lens Implants Common QuestionsTestimonials Pre-Op InstructionsPost-Op Instructions

Southern Eye Associates – Cataracts