Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgery.

When to consider cataract surgery

Talk with your eye doctor about whether surgery is right for you. Most eye doctors suggest considering cataract surgery when your cataracts begin to affect your quality of life or interfere with your ability to perform normal daily activities, such as reading or driving at night.

It's up to you and your doctor to decide when cataract surgery is right for you. For most people, there is no rush to remove cataracts because they usually don't harm the eye.

Delaying the procedure won't make it more likely that you won't recover your vision if you later decide to have cataract surgery. Take time to consider the benefits and risks of cataract surgery with your doctor.

If you choose not to undergo cataract surgery now, your eye doctor may recommend periodic follow-up exams to see if your cataracts are progressing. How often you'll see your eye doctor depends on your situation.

What happens during cataract surgery

Cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens. The artificial lens, called an intraocular lens, is positioned in the same place as your natural lens, and it remains a permanent part of your eye.

For some people, other eye problems prohibit the use of an artificial lens. In these situations, once the cataract is removed, vision may be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Cataract surgery is generally done on an outpatient basis, which means you won't need to stay in a hospital after the surgery.

During cataract surgery, your eye doctor uses local anesthesia to numb the area around your eye, but you usually stay awake during the procedure.

Cataract surgery is generally safe, but it carries a risk of infection and bleeding. Cataract surgery increases the risk of retinal detachment.

After the procedure, you'll have some discomfort for a few days. You generally will be healed within eight weeks.

If you need cataract surgery in both eyes, your doctor will schedule surgery to remove the cataract in the second eye a month or two after the first surgery.

Jul. 30, 2013