Cataract Surgery FAQs

Cataracts are usually related to the aging process. Inside the eye a natural lens focuses rays of light as they pass through to the retina creating clear images of objects at various distances. The lens is made up of mostly water and protein. In many people, and for reasons that are not completely known, these proteins begin to clump together, causing cloudy patches to form in the lens. The process generally starts when people turn 50; occasionally, babies are born with cataracts, or cataracts develop during childhood.
The common risk factors for cataracts are age, sun or radiation exposure, and trauma. Some medications, including steroids, can also cause cataracts.
Cataracts are diagnosed in a routine eye exam, along with standard vision tests. Because the lens sits directly behind the pupil, the only way for an ophthalmologist to visualize the lens is to dilate (widen) the pupils with eye drops and then use a slit-lamp biomicroscope (a high-power light source attached to a microscope) to examine the eye. If a cataract is present, it will be visible to the ophthalmologist.
Not all cataracts require treatment. For some people, the cataract does not interfere with activities such as reading or driving, and does not need to be removed. Using brighter light and magnifying lenses and wearing anti-glare glasses can help people with early cataracts to see better.

If you have visual symptoms that are interfering with daily life, the cataract should be treated surgically. During cataract surgery, the ophthalmologist will remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an intraocular lens implant. Performed on an outpatient basis, you will be awake but lightly sedated during the procedure.
We utilize the CATALYS Precision Laser System for patients undergoing cataract surgery for removal of the crystalline lens. It is used to perform anterior capsulotomy, phacofragmentation, and creation of corneal incisions.
Cataract surgery usually takes less than 30 minutes. The CATALYS Laser portion usually takes just a few minutes.
Most normal activities are not restricted following cataract surgery.
The risks associated with cataract surgery include infection, swelling of the cornea or retina and detachment of the retina, although these are all very unlikely. The overall risk combined is very low.