Cataract Surgery

  • Medical Author:
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideCataracts Causes, Symptoms, Vision Tests, and Surgery

Cataracts Causes, Symptoms, Vision Tests, and Surgery

What types of doctors perform cataract surgery?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has specialized in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases. An ophthalmologist has the knowledge and training to diagnose a cataract, help you make a decision regarding the need for surgery, and can perform the surgery, including preoperative and postoperative care.

Who is a candidate for cataract surgery?

Eye-care professionals may mention during a routine eye exam that you have early cataract development even if you are not yet experiencing visual symptoms. Although your doctor will be able to tell when you first begin to develop cataracts, you will generally be the first person to notice changes in your vision that may require cataract surgery. Clouding of the lens may start to be seen at any age, but it is uncommon before the age of 40. However, a large majority of people will not begin to have symptoms from their cataracts until many years after they begin to develop. Cataracts can be safely observed without treatment until you notice changes in your vision.

Surgery is recommended for most individuals who have significant vision loss and are symptomatic secondary to cataract. If you have significant other eye disease unrelated to cataracts that limits your vision, your ophthalmologist may not recommend surgery. Sometimes a cataract may make it difficult for your eye-care professional to clearly see the retina at the back of the eye. In these cases, it may be appropriate to remove the cataract so that retinal or optic nerve evaluation and treatment can occur.

The mode of surgery can be tailored to individuals based on coexisting medical problems. Cataract surgery is generally performed with minimal sedation and typically takes less than 30 minutes. Therefore, the surgery does not put significant strain on the heart or the lungs.

Prior refractive surgery such as LASIK is not a contraindication to cataract surgery. It is reasonable to have cataract surgery in only one eye.

A cataract is a medical condition, and insurance companies usually cover part or all of the cost of cataract surgery, including pre- and postoperative care. Ask your physician any questions you may have about the cost involved.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/26/2016

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