Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a highly advanced and common procedure. This page details the procedure itself, and you can learn more about what to expect on your surgery day with Dr. Emara's team.

Procedure Overview

  1. Eye drops are placed into the eye to numb the surface.
  2. The patient is positioned under the operating microscope, and a small opening is made through the cornea and in the capsule that holds the natural lens.
  3. This opening allows the insertion of the phacoemulsification tip to enter the eye.
  4. Ultrasound vibrations coming from the tip break up the cloudy lens into small pieces, allowing it to be suctioned or vacuumed from the eye. The outer portion of the lens (capsule) is left behind.
  5. The intraocular lens (implant or IOL) is folded and passed through the small incision using a thin applicator. The lens is placed inside the capsule where it then unfolds and fills the space the natural lens used to occupy. There are lenses available that can reduce or eliminate the need for glasses after cataract surgery -- click here to learn more about IOL upgrades.
  6. The applicator is removed and the small opening closes on its own. No stitches are needed.
  7. Eye drops are placed into the eye and the patient is brought into recovery.

Types of Implants

Choosing the lens that is right for you depends on the way you live and the kinds of things you like to do, such as indoor or outdoor activities, driving, hobbies, sports or reading. A standard single-focus lens is covered under the provincial health plan. Upgrading to an enhanced intraocular lens can help many patients reduce or eliminate the need for glasses for both distance and near vision, and correct for astigmatism. Click here to learn more.

Risks and Complications

Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed type of eye surgery. Due to the advances in technology and techniques of cataract surgery, complications are rare.

  • Infection
    Great efforts are made at the time of surgery to reduce the possibility of infection. Patients receive antibiotic drops before and after surgery. The surface of the eye and the skind around the eye is disinfected and the patient's face (except for the eye) is covered with serile drapes. All the instruments are sterilized, and antibiotic drops are prescribed for use after the surgery. Infections occur in approximately 1 out of every 3000 cases. Symptoms of infection include excessive redness, pain, light sensitivity and worsening vision.
  • Bleeding
    is very rare due to the advances in techniques used in moern cataract surgery.
  • Retinal Detachment
    Nearsighted patients have increased risk of retinal detachment. Symptoms of retinal detachment include a shadow or curtain in any part of the vision, flashing lights, and/or brief lightning-like streaks.  Contact your doctor immediately if you suspect retinal detachment.
  • Elevated Intraocular Pressure
    is high pressure in the eye. Occasionally, fluid that is used during surgery does not drain from the eye and causes pressure inside the eye to increase. If this happens, the patient experiences headaches or sharp eye pain. Medications are used to lower the pressure.
  • Corneal Swelling
    can develop a few hours after surgery. Things may look distorted. This usually clears up over time.

After Cataract Surgery

There are some restrictions on what you can do before and after surgery, and you will need to take eye drops for a few weeks. Learn more about what to expect from your cataract surgery.

Secondary Cataracts

During cataract surgery the outer shell (capsule) of the natural lens is left behind to hold the artificial lens (implant). Over time, in most patients, this outer shell becomes cloudy and is called a secondary cataract. They commonly develop several weeks to years after cataract surgery. This a secondary opacification of the capsular bag in which the intraocular lens was originally placed, not a clouding of the artificial lens. If you have had cataract surgery and the vision becomes cloudy, hazy or blurry you may have a secondary cataract. There may be other causes for decreased vision, so call the office and you'll be examined to determine if you have a secondary cataract.

Treatment of Secondary Cataracts

Secondary cataracts are treated using a YAG laser. It is a brief and painless outpatient procedure. There is no need for anesthesia or incision. The pupil will be dilated at the time of the procedure. The laser lakes a new clear pathway in the area of the pupil, allowing light to reach the back of the eye. You will usually notice an improvement in vision as soon as the pupil goes back to its normal size.

This procedure takes approximately 5 minutes and the are no post-operative restrictions. You may notice spots or floaters in your vision after the procedure. This is normal and will become less noticeable as they become absorbed by the eye.