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Conditions & Treatments

Cataract Treatment Options

Cataracts are very common. Advancements in surgical technology and techniques, have evolved cataract surgery into small-incisional surgery with rapid visual recovery, good visual outcomes, and minimal complications in most patients. Additionally, new advances in intraocular lenses, make it possible to treat both cataracts and astigmatism.

What are the symptoms of a cataract?

  • Blurry vision
  • Colors look faded
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Double vision
  • Changing glasses or contact prescriptions frequently

Your Union Eye Care Center eye surgeon will likely recommend cataract surgery if your vision is impaired and affects your daily activities and quality of life. During cataract surgery your eye surgeon will remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL).

What are the surgical treatment options?

Surgery is the only definitive treatment for cataracts. It’s recommended when the cataracts cause enough vision loss to interfere with daily activities including reading, driving and watching TV. Cataract surgery is very safe and effective and improves vision. If you have cataracts in both eyes, you will need surgery in each eye one month apart.

Preparing for cataract surgery

Before surgery, you will have comprehensive visual acuity testing, slit-lamp examination, intraocular pressure measurements and an examination of the retina. A critical pre-surgical step that measures the eye’s size and corneal curvature is essential to determine the right choice of the intraocular lens (IOL) type and prescription strength for you. This can be done with an optical (laser) or ultrasound testing to ensure a maximal potential return of best visual acuity with the IOL. With this information your eye surgeon will recommend the best type of IOL for you based on your needs and desires.

What are the types of intraocular lenses?

The choice includes monofocal, multifocal, toric and other lenses.

  • A monofocal lens is designed to provide clear visions at one distance.
  • A multifocal lens is designed to provide clear vision at multiple distances, potentially reducing the need for glasses.
  • A toric lens is designed to correct astigmatism and provides clear vision for patients with astigmatism.
  • An accommodative lens is designed to move or change shape inside the eye, allowing the ability to focus at multiple distances.

What is the surgical procedure?

You will be awake for your procedure. Your eye will be numbed with a special gel and eye drops, and you will receive a mild sedative so you will not feel discomfort. The procedure generally takes one hour.

  1. Phacoemulsification (Small-Incision Cataract Surgery) – This is the most common form of cataract surgery due to the rapid recovery time and minimal discomfort. During the procedure, your eye surgeon will make a very small incision on the side of the cornea, through which a tiny probe is inserted. This probe emits ultrasound waves to soften and break up the cloudy lens so it can be removed by suction.
  2. Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE) – During this procedure, your eye surgeon will make a larger incision to remove the cloudy lens in one piece. This procedure is typically reserved for people with very advanced cataracts when phacoemulsification is not possible.

Intraocular lenses (IOLs)

Once the natural lens is removed, the new intraocular lens is inserted through the opening used to remove the old lens. An IOL is a clear, artificial lens that will provide improved vision. You will not be able to see or feel the new IOL.

What is the recovery after cataract surgery?

Recovery after cataract surgery is generally quick and straightforward for most patients, with many noticing rapid improvements in their vision shortly after the procedure. Many patients also experience significant improvement in color vision and overall clarity, which can enhance quality of life. Adjusting to new visual capabilities might take time, especially if multifocal lenses were implanted and there’s a period of adaptation to different focal points. Complete healing and vision stabilization might take a month.

Mild discomfort, grittiness or a feeling something is in the eye are common but typically subside within a day or two. Severe pain is rare and should be reported to your Union Square Eye surgeon immediately.

Your ophthalmologist will prescribe eye drops to prevent infection and inflammation, and to control eye pressure. An eye shield may be recommended to be worn during sleep to protect the operated eye. Patients will also be advised on activities to avoid during the recovery period.

Patients can expect to return to work two to three days after surgery, Follow-up appointments are crucial to monitor the eye’s healing.

Choosing the right procedure involves a thorough discussion between you and your Union Eye Care eye surgeon. Factors to consider include your lifestyle, visual needs, the presence of other eye conditions, and the potential benefits and risks of each surgical option and type of IOL.

New Your patients, contact Union Eye Square Eye Care to schedule a consultation with one of our leading ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians today. We have offices in Union Square and Harlem for your convenience.


  • https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts/cataract-surgery
  • Liu YC, Wilkins M, Kim T, Malyugin B, Mehta JS. Cataracts. Lancet. 2017 Aug 5;390(10094):600-612. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30544-5. Epub 2017 Feb 25. PMID: 28242111.

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