In the not so distant past, cataract surgery used to involve making a large incision to remove the cloudy lens, and patients were often brought into the hospital overnight or for several days. Now advanced surgical techniques and modern lens replacement make "same day cataract surgery" possible. You can have your cataract removed on an outpatient basis at a nearby hospital and go home the same day!
Today, cataract surgery is among the most highly perfected, safe, and successful procedures in all of medicine. Over one million cataract operations are performed in this country every year. The surgery is most often performed with monitored anesthetic care with appropriate sedation given as necessary and thus does not carry the risks of general anesthesia. It is painless and usually takes less than an hour.
A sophisticated micro-surgical technique, called phacoemulsification, is used to remove the cataract through a small incision. Phacoemulsification is an ultrasound technique which allows the doctor to remove the clouded lens in small fragments, instead of whole. This technique permits the smallest possible incision and the shortest recovery period. In the hands of an experienced cataract surgeon, phacoemulsification also reduces the incidence of complications and produces the best possible visual results. Once the cataract has been removed, a new clear implant lens is folded, inserted through the small incision, and allowed to open up in the same "bag" that used to hold your own lens in place. In some cases, an implant lens may not be implanted, or a different type of lens implant may be placed outside of the "bag" if your surgeon feels this is best for your eye. Fine-tuning the patient's vision is performed with the appropriate choice of intraocular lens implant power having been chosen earlier. Usually, the incision is so small that it is able to heal rapidly, leaving no visible scar and eliminating the need for sutures.
Sutureless or "No-Stitch" cataract surgery is the most recent advance in cataract surgery. Sutureless surgery is made possible by a revolutionary new way of constructing the small phacoemulsification incision. This new type of incision is self-sealing and requires no sutures. Yet it is even stronger and heals faster than earlier types of incision, and with even fewer complications. With no-stitch surgery, cataract surgery patients are usually able to resume all normal activities within 24 hours after surgery. No-stitch or small incision surgery, combined with the latest small incision intraocular lenses, offers the cataract patient the best possible vision in the shortest possible time.