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What is Cataract Surgery?

A cataract is a cloudy, dull area that develops in the lens of the eye, usually in people over the age of 55. It is sometimes linked to a deficiency in certain nutrients, especially lutein, zinc, and vitamin E. Cataracts can cause significant vision loss and even blindness. Cataract surgery is a procedure to remove the damaged lens and replace it with an artificial lens, making it possible to see clearly again.

Cataract surgery is a relatively simple surgery, performed under local anesthetic, which usually takes less than an hour. The ophthalmologist makes a tiny incision in the corner of the eye and removes the old lens. Then the new lens, which is permanent and made of plastic, is inserted. There are different kinds of replacement lenses available, just as there are different kinds of lenses for eyeglasses. Monofocal lenses are good for distance but will require the use of reading glasses for near vision. Bifocal lenses have different focal points for near and far vision depending on the angle at which you look through the lens. There are even adjustable lenses that can shift between near and far vision with the movement of your eye muscles.

If both eyes require surgery, usually the ophthalmologist does one eye at a time to allow your vision on one side to heal before performing surgery on the other. After surgery, you can typically go home right away, although driving is not recommended. There is not usually much pain, but you might feel an itching sensation for the first day or two as the incision in your eye heals. It may take several weeks for your vision to fully adapt to the new lens.

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