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Cataract Surgery

Modern cataract surgery technology allows for a quick and painless procedure, usually a few minutes with a rapid recovery time. The use of a topical and/or local anesthetic means you can be in and out of the surgical center the same day with no overnight stay.

The procedure begins with an incision in the cornea so small that stitches are rarely needed. These incisions can be made with a blade or with the femtosecond laser (see Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery). Then begins a process called phacoemulsification, or “phaco” for short. A rapidly oscillating ultrasonic probe is placed through the incision and used to break up the cloudy lens into small pieces. The tip of this same probe is used to suction out the broken-up pieces. The new lens is then inserted, and the recovery begins.

Intraocular Lens Choices

Cataract surgery is a very important decision, but the type of synthetic lens you choose can be equally significant. Depending on your lifestyle and the anatomy of your eyes, the right lens could not only restore your vision but may improve it beyond what you’ve ever experienced. Here are a few of your options:

Monofocal Lenses

Monofocal lenses are the basic replacement lenses and are designed to provide clear vision at one distance. They will remove the cloudiness you are experiencing but cannot correct pre-existing problems such as astigmatism or presbyopia. Monofocal lenses typically focus on only objects in the distance. This means that if you wear glasses or contact lenses now, you will still need them to see up close such as when reading or viewing the computer.


This is a technique in which a monofocal lens for near vision is used in one eye and one for distance vision is used in the other. This requires adaptation, since each eye is oriented differently, but can provide a wider range of improved vision.

Multifocal Lenses

Multifocal lenses can change how you see the world by allowing you a full range of improved vision, from near to far. They can drastically reduce your dependency on glasses or contacts, even if you’ve required them your entire life.

Astigmatism-Correcting Lenses

Astigmatism-correcting lenses, also known as toric lenses, are specifically designed to correct for astigmatism. Their unique shape minimizes imperfections in your cornea, allowing light to enter your eye with much less distortion. Even if you’ve needed glasses for years, a toric lens can greatly reduce your dependence on glasses for distance vision.

Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery

Just as you have options when it comes to choosing the lens that you receive during cataract surgery, you also have the option of choosing the technology that’s used to perform the procedure.

Cataract surgery has had a major technical advancement develop over the past couple of years. In 2012, the femtosecond laser bladeless cataract procedure was FDA approved. Dr. Ochsner offers Alcon’s LenSx® laser to assist in cataract removal. The LenSx femtosecond laser revolutionizes the way cataract surgery is performed. In addition to making bladeless incisions on the cornea, the laser automates other steps in the removal of the cataract. It can create the necessary opening in the capsule of the cataract and divide the cataract into small pieces that can be removed with the ultrasonic probe, or phacoemulsification hand piece. The Lensx femtosecond laser can also correct astigmatism at the time of cataract removal.