Doctors recommend surgery when cataracts interfere with a person's ability to carry out normal activities such as driving, reading or seeing faces clearly, notes Mayo Clinic. Doctors may also recommend surgery if cataracts interfere with the ability to examine and treat other eye conditions such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy.
Blurry vision and an increased glare from lights are symptoms of cataracts, though people can delay or never have cataract surgery if their symptoms are not severe, states Mayo Clinic. During surgery, doctors remove cataracts from the damaged eye lens and insert an artificial lens. During phacoemulsification cataract surgery, doctors use an ultrasound probe to break up cataracts. During an extracapsular cataract extraction, surgeons make a larger incision and use surgical tools to remove cataracts. In both types of surgery, doctors place the implant, or intraocular lens, on the remaining back capsule of the lens, and it becomes a permanent part of the eye.
Inflammation, infection, bleeding, secondary cataracts and glaucoma are possible complications of cataract surgery, though these problems are uncommon, and most are treatable, notes Mayo Clinic. People who have another eye disease or serious medical condition have a higher risk of complications from cataract surgery. People who have existing conditions such as glaucoma or macular degeneration may not benefit from cataract surgery unless those underlying conditions are treated first.