The lens of an eye is normally clear. A cataract is when the lens becomes cloudy as you get older.
Surgery is usually recommended for people who have vision problems or other major problems caused by the cataract.
Procedure, part 1
Two procedures are used to treat cataracts. In the manual extraction procedure, a small incision is made at the edge of the outer lining of the eye (cornea). The lens is then removed and replaced with an artificial lens.
Procedure, part 2
Another procedure is called phacoemulsification. This involves inserting a needle through a small incision on the eye. The end of the needle produces sound waves. The sound waves break up the lens, which is then sucked out through the needle. This procedure requires a smaller incision than the manual extraction procedure.
Cataract surgery usually works very well. The operation has few risks, the pain and recovery period are short, and your sight is usually greatly improved. Ninety-five percent or more of all cataract surgeries result in improved vision.
Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.