Cataract Surgery (Phacoemulsification)

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Issued November 2017

Expires end of December 2018

This document will give you information about cataract surgery. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a cataract?

A cataract is when the natural lens in your eye becomes cloudy, usually caused by ageing (see figure 1). A cataract causes blurred vision or changes the focus of your eye.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your vision should improve.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

New glasses may improve your vision to some extent, but if the cataract is too advanced, surgery is the only option to restore your vision.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is usually performed under a local anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about 20 minutes.

Cataract surgery involves removing the cataract and replacing it with an artificial lens implant.

Your surgeon will usually break the cataract into small pieces using ultrasound (sound waves) and then remove it from your eye through a small cut.

They will place the lens implant behind the iris in the same bag (or capsule) in your eye that held the natural lens in place.

What complications can happen?

1 General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection

2 Specific complications

  • Tear in the bag which holds the lens in place
  • Heavy bleeding inside your eye
  • Clouding of the bag
  • Retinal detachment
  • Inflammation in your other eye
  • Cornea abrasion
  • Cystoid macular oedema (swelling of the retina)

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after a few hours.

Your surgeon will tell you if new glasses will improve your vision.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Most people make a good recovery with improved vision.

Summary

A cataract is a common problem where the natural lens of your eye becomes cloudy. Cataract surgery should improve your vision.

Acknowledgements

Author: Prof Anthony King MD FRCOphth

Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.