Cataracts Treatments

Your health care provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:

  • Your age
  • Your overall health and medical history
  • How sick you are
  • How well you can handle specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • How long the condition is expected to last
  • Your opinion or preference

The symptoms of cataracts sometimes look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your health care provider for a diagnosis.

In its early stages, loss of eyesight caused by a cataract may be helped with the use of different eyeglasses, a magnifying glass, or stronger lighting. When these actions are no longer helpful, surgery is the only effective treatment available. A cataract only needs to be removed when loss of eyesight gets in the way of your everyday activities, such as driving, reading, or watching TV. You and your eye doctor can make that decision together.

Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries. It is also one of the safest and most effective. Surgery involves swapping out the cloudy lens with a new lens. If you have cataracts in both eyes, they can’t be taken out at the same time. Your eye doctor will need to do the surgery on each eye separately.

Cataracts are usually taken out in one of two ways:

  • Small incision cataract surgery (Phacoemulsification). This is the most common type of cataract removal surgery. The doctor makes a small incision on the side of the cornea. The cornea is a clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. A tiny probe gives off ultrasound waves to soften and break up the cloudy center of the lens. The cataract is then removed by suction through the same incision.
  • Extracapsular surgery. During this surgery, a longer incision is made on the side of the cornea to remove the hard center of the lens. The rest of the lens is then taken out by suction.

The removed lens is replaced by an intraocular lens (IOL) in most cataract surgeries. An IOL is a clear, fake lens that does not need care. It becomes part of the eye. With an IOL, a person has better eyesight because light will be able to pass through the retina. The person does not see or feel the new lens.

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