How has cataract surgery changed in the last 20 years?

Cataract surgery has changed tremendously over the past 20 years or. And it is almost unrecognizable now when compared to how the operation was performed when I started my training over 40 years ago!

Cataract surgery was originally an operation to remove the cloudy opacity visible within the pupil. If a patient got any improvement in vision, it was considered a "success," even with the patient having to wear grossly thick glasses afterwards. Patients were routinely hospitalized for several days, and often had to exercise great precaution in their activities for several weeks after. Even with the introduction of intraocular lens implants (IOLs) to replace the cloudy natural lens, most patients had to wear full-time glasses.

Almost all cataract surgery is out-patient now with almost full rehabilitation of sight being achieved within a week or so. Optics technology has become more technologically advanced with entry wounds so small that sutures are usually not necessary. IOLs can now be selected in advance that not only eliminate the discolored natural lens (which is a cataract), but also treat any nearsightedness, astigmatism, and many other focusing problems above and beyond simply removing the cloudy lens.

_Written by J. Trevor Woodhams, M.D. - Chief of Surgery, Woodhams Eye Clinic