A cataract is a cloudiness of the lens inside of the eye that causes decreased vision. Fortunately, the surgery performed to restore vision is a very common and safe procedure. Cataract surgery used to require a fairly large incision inside the eye and the use of sutures to close that incision. Today, technological advances allow surgeons to work through an incision much smaller than in the past, usually requiring no sutures at all. Small-incision cataract surgery is made possible by using high-frequency sound waves known as “ultrasound” or “phacoemulsification.” The sound waves break a cataract up into tiny fragments that can then be removed through the small incision. The other advance that makes small-incision cataract surgery possible is the “foldable” intraocular lens implant. These implants are made of soft materials that can be folded like a taco or rolled-up with a special instrument, allowing them to fit through very small incisions. Once inside the eye, these lenses unfold and return to their original shape. Small-incision cataract surgery is less invasive, allows patients to resume normal activities soon after surgery, and provides the fastest recovery of vision.
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