Laser Cataract Surgery

Cataract Surgery in Orange County

The only way to treat cataracts is to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear intraocular lens (IOL). At Harvard Eye Associates, we perform laser cataract surgery.

Cataract Surgery Diagram

How Laser Cataract Surgery Works

  • Cataract surgery is performed with local anesthesia only. We provide intravenous medications to help patients fully relax. We also administer local medicines around the eye so patients don’t feel or see anything during surgery.
  • Using a 3-D image of the eye, the surgeon creates a small opening in the front of the eye (the cornea).
  • An artificial lens implant (IOL) made of synthetic, usually acrylic, is inserted into the eye where it will remain permanently. It will never need maintenance or replacement. The new lens can be selected to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness using a monofocal (single focus) lens. Premium lens implants are also available to correct astigmatism or presbyopia (the need for reading glasses).

What to Expect After Cataract Surgery

Most patients say there is no pain during or after cataract surgery. Some may experience a scratchy sensation (like an eyelash in the eye) and mild soreness for about 24 hours after surgery. If necessary, you may take aspirin, Advil (ibuprofen), or Tylenol (acetaminophen). Stronger pain medicine is also available if necessary.

For the first 4 hours after surgery, an eye patch is placed on the healing eye and the effects of anesthesia will be wearing off. During this time we recommend restful activity. Eating, watching television, reading, and walking around the house are allowed. After the eye patch is removed, you can begin administering the post-operative eye drops.

For the first few days after surgery, heavy lifting (more than 20 pounds) is not allowed and we recommend avoiding eye makeup for one week. There are other restrictions as well after surgery. These are fully discussed with our doctors and counselors before surgery.

Most people are in the surgery center for about 90 minutes, including pre- and post-operative time.

Secondary Cataracts

After cataract surgery, it is impossible for a cataract to return because the lens of the eye, where the cataract grows, has been completely removed. However, in about 40% of patients, a cloudy film can grow on the lens capsule membrane that is located behind the lens implant.

This is called a secondary cataract and it usually occurs months or years after surgery. Treatment is simple and is performed with a laser as an outpatient procedure that involves no post-operative restrictions or downtime for most patients. Once a secondary cataract is treated with laser, it will not occur again.

Cataract Surgery Risks

There are risks with every kind of surgery and cataract surgery is no exception. The risk of severe complications such as infection, severe bleeding during surgery, or retinal detachment is about 1 in 1,000. Less severe complications may include the need for additional surgery or prolonged recovery time with delayed visual improvement.

This is not a complete list of risks that occur with surgery and individual patients may have other risks based on existing medical or eye conditions. Our doctors have extensive experience performing cataract surgery in unusual circumstances and can fully discuss these risks during an office consultation.

To learn more about laser cataract surgery in Laguna Hills and San Clemente, contact us to schedule a Cataract Consultation.