How Are Cataracts Removed?


Quick Answer

Cataracts are removed after the eye surgeon makes an incision in the patient's cornea and then carefully removes the clouded lens. Before surgery, topical medications are used to dilate the pupil and numb the eye. The patient may also be sedated.

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Full Answer

In more advanced cataract surgery, the cataract can be broken up by ultrasound or by laser. When it's broken up via ultrasound, the process is called phacoemulsification. A tiny probe is inserted into the incision in the cornea, and ultrasound is applied. If a laser is used, the focused light softens the cataract and emulsifies it in a precise pattern.

A special laser, known as the femtosecond laser, can be used to simply remove the cataract or make the first incision in the cornea. Lasers are also used to accurately sculpt the back of the capsule to ease the insertion of any interocular lens.

When phacoemulsification or lasers are used, the incision in the cornea is usually so small that it doesn't require sutures.

Another way to remove a cataract is to make a larger incision in the cornea and remove the lens and the front of its capsule. In this case, the surgeon needs to close the surgical wound with sutures.

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