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What happens during cataract surgery?

What happens during cataract surgery?

The operation usually lasts around 5 to 8 minutes.

Cataract surgery is usually done under a local anesthesia which numbs the area but you will be awake. If needed, your anesthetist can also give you an injection of a sedative, which will make you feel relaxed and possibly drowsy. On rare occasions some people may need general anesthesia. This means that you will be asleep throughout the procedure and will feel no pain.

During the operation, you will lie in a reclined position in a special chair. The surgeon will work with very fine instruments while looking at your eye through a microscope.

Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon will make a tiny incision on the surface of your eye. This incision is usually so small that no stitches are needed.

The most common cataract operation is known as phacoemulsification. During this operation, an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) removes the clouded lens from your eye but leaves most of the outer layer (lens capsule ) in place by making a small incision - less than 3 millimeters (mm) long - between 1,8 to 2,6 mm - where the cornea meets the conjunctiva and inserts a needle-thin probe.

The surgeon then uses the probe, which transmits ultrasound waves, to break up the cloudy lens (cataract) into tiny pieces and suction out the fragments.

The lens capsule is kept in place to provide support for artificial replacement lens, which will be inserted through the same incision.

In most cases, the eye doctor replaces the lens with an artificial, clear and plastic intraocular lens (IOL) into the empty lens capsule where the natural lens used to be, by rolling it as a tube to help inserting it through the tiny incision. The intraocular lens will be unfolded once it is in your eye. The lens is made of plastic, acrylic or silicone and remains permanently in your eye. In some cases, however, a cataract may be removed without implanting an artificial lens.

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