What Are Cataracts?

What Are Cataracts?

A Cataract is a cloudiness that appears on the lens of the eye which adversely affects vision. The majority of Cataracts occur with aging and they are common in elderly individuals.  Over half of Americans either have cataracts or gone through Cataract surgery by the age of 80.  Cataracts may occur in one or both eyes, however spreading from one eye to another can not occur.

New Advances In Cataract Surgery

There have been many new advances in cataract surgery in recent years.  The days when Cataract surgery was a procedure that always required a hospital stay and a lengthy recovery time are gone.  Now, Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that helps to restore vision and in some cases can even give a patient better vision than they had before.


Cataract surgery in the modern world began with the lens and capsule being removed, however this technique is primarily used in developing countries and rarely used today. Extracapsular Cataract extraction is more common. This procedure requires the lens capsule to remain in the eye and an artificial lens is put in place of the natural lens of the eye.


Phacoemulsification is a similar procedure, but it requires a much smaller incision and is often utilized in the United States. The small incision is made on the side of the cornea and only requires local anesthesia.  The lens is broken down into small pieces through the use of ultrasound vibrations and then removed using suction through the incision that was made earlier.  This is possible because the harder section of the lens has been liquefied through exposure to ultrasound vibrations. This procedure still corrects the Cataracts, however in a much simpler way, and most likely is used today. Phacoemulsification does an excellent job of making what was once a difficult and laborious surgery into a successful procedure with a quick recovery time.


The most recent treatment includes the use of lasers to deal with the Cataracts.  This is a relatively new development in the field, however it is thought that this procedure will have a greater impact on Cataracts, in comparison to what Lasik surgery did for general vision correction.  In this type of Cataract surgery a laser energy pulse is directed into the cornea at the exact right spot.  With this type of technology, Cataracts can be corrected without the need for the eye to be operated on. The benefits of this type of Cataract treatment is a higher accuracy level of precision and safety.

How Long Does Recovery Take?

The length of recovery will depend on the type of surgery, the patient, and on the specific situation.  Larger incisions and stitches require a longer recovery time, while those with small incisions and no stitches can often go through the procedure that takes 2 hours or less and walk out afterwards able to see better.  The recovery process will depend on the individual and the situation, but recovery from Cataract surgery takes much less time than it used to.

These new advances in Cataract surgery are only the beginning.  Technology and techniques continue to improve correcting the condition known as Cataracts, and making it into an easy task.  It still takes surgery to correct, however with the new advances in treatment, the experience and results of Cataract surgery are getting better all the time.

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