Which Method is Best for Cataract Surgery? A Comprehensive Guide

Cataract surgery is a common procedure to remove the lens from the eye and, in most cases, replace it with an artificial lens. It is done by an eye doctor on an outpatient basis and is very safe and effective. There are two main methods for cataract surgery: phacoemulsification and laser-assisted cataract surgery. Both of these methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to understand the differences between them before making a decision.

Phacoemulsification is the most common method for removing a cataract. It is a type of ultrasound that is considered safe and effective. During phacoemulsification, the most common type of cataract surgery, the tip of the ultrasound probe emulsifies and helps break up the cataract, which the surgeon then sucks out. An outer shell of the cataract (the lens capsule) is usually left in place and after removing the emulsified material, the surgeon inserts the lens implant into the empty space inside the capsule where the natural lens used to be.

Cataract surgery usually takes an hour or less to perform. Laser-assisted cataract surgery is the latest and most advanced method for performing cataract surgery. Many eye doctors prefer laser cataract surgery to traditional cataract surgery as a pre-treatment to “soften the cataracts.” During laser-assisted cataract surgery, a laser is used to make precise incisions in the eye and break up the cataract into small pieces that can be removed more easily. This method also allows for more accurate placement of the intraocular lens implant.

When a cataract interferes with treatment for another eye problem, cataract surgery may be recommended. If your vision is still good enough, you may not need cataract surgery for many years, if ever. Complications after cataract surgery are rare and most can be treated successfully. The risk of complications is higher if you have another eye disease or a serious medical condition.

Occasionally, cataract surgery doesn't improve vision due to underlying eye damage caused by other conditions, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. If possible, it may be beneficial to evaluate and treat other eye problems before making the decision to have cataract surgery. You may be told not to eat or drink anything 12 hours before cataract surgery. Your doctor may also recommend that you temporarily stop taking any medications that may increase the risk of bleeding during the procedure.

Tell your doctor if you are taking any medications for prostate problems, as some of these medications may interfere with cataract surgery. Almost everyone who undergoes cataract surgery will have intraocular lenses. These lenses improve vision by focusing light on the back of the eye and require no care and become a permanent part of the eye. After cataract surgery, expect your vision to begin to improve within a few days.

Your vision may be blurred at first as your eye heals and adapts. Most people need eyeglasses, at least some of the time, after cataract surgery. Your doctor will let you know when your eyes have healed enough so that you can get a definitive prescription for eyeglasses. This usually happens one to three months after surgery.

Cataract surgery successfully restores vision for most people who undergo the procedure. People who have had cataract surgery may develop a secondary cataract known as posterior capsule opacification (PCO). This occurs when the back of the lens capsule becomes opaque and affects vision. Phacoemulsification with foldable intraocular lenses is considered as the reference standard as long as Phaco machines and trained surgeons are available and the service is affordable.

Unfortunately, this technique depends not only on expensive technology but also on more expensive consumables and trained human resources. Cataract surgery has become refractive surgery today as patients demand better and earlier visual rehabilitation. Once your cataracts have been removed, you can keep the same vision you had before surgery or you can choose to correct your vision by choosing an intraocular lens that improves your vision up close, far or in between. If you have cataracts in both eyes, your doctor will usually schedule the second surgery after the first eye has healed.

One of the most recent advances in cataract surgery includes a technology called ORA (Optiwave Refractive Analysis), which is a type of intraoperative aberrometry that surgeons can use to take refractive measurements in order to provide optimal lens power and location.

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