Treatments and Services

Cataract surgery removes the cataract and the implantation of a new artificial lens, also known as an intraocular lens (IOL). This lens has a prescription to it, just like a contact lens. Cataract surgery gives patients sharper vision, less glare, and better clarity of vision and is one of the most common types of surgery performed in the world.

The surgery is an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia, and you can return home on the same day. Please note that even though the surgery is often quite short, most of our patients spend about half of the day with us when you factor in the time before and after surgery.

Before determining a treatment plan, our specialists will perform a comprehensive eye exam that includes diagnostic tests. During the visit, measurements of the eye will be taken, the pupils will be dilated, and the doctors will discuss the stage of your cataracts and various options for cataract surgery. These tests might include measuring the curve of your cornea and the size and shape of your eye. This information helps your doctor choose the most appropriate type of IOL for you. If you are a contact lens wearer, it is important to be off of them for 1 week (soft contacts) to 2 weeks (soft toric contacts or gas permeable contacts) before your cataract consultation exam to get the most accurate eye measurements for your cataract surgery.

In standard cataract surgery, a small incision is made on the eye’s surface called the cornea with a scalpel, and another incision is made in the capsule around the cataract to gain access to the lens. Then an ultrasound probe technology, called phacoemulsification, is used to break the cataract into tiny pieces. The pieces are then removed, and an artificial lens (also known as an intraocular lens) is placed inside the eye. Usually, the incisions are self-sealing, and there is often no need for a suture. The eye is then protected with a clear plastic shield.

The day before your surgery, our dedicated nursing team will reach out to you and provide important information regarding your upcoming cataract surgery. You might be asked not to eat or drink anything at least 12 hours before your surgery.

Treatments We Offer

The damage from cataracts cannot be undone, but there are many ways to address the symptoms, including:

  • New eyeglasses prescriptions
  • Brighter lights
  • Anti-glare sunglasses
  • Magnifying lenses
  • Intraocular lenses
  • Small incision surgery is known as phacoemulsification (or "phaco"). For this surgery, the doctor makes a small incision on the side of the cornea. The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped surface covering the front of the eye. The doctor then inserts a tiny probe into the eye. This device gives off ultrasound waves that soften and break up the lens so that it can be removed with suction. Most cataract surgery today is done with phacoemulsification.
  • Femtosecond Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (FLACS), in which the surgeon uses a detailed map of the eye to place precise femtosecond laser-created incisions on the cornea and lens capsule in a way that is customized to the eye. The customization with the incisions helps reduce corneal astigmatism. The laser also softens the lens, making cataract removal more efficient. The remainder of the surgery is like traditional cataract surgery.
  • Extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) surgery, in which the surgeon makes a larger incision on the side of the cornea and removes the cloudy core of the lens in one piece. The rest of the lens is removed with suction. This surgery is usually only used for cataracts that cannot be treated with phacoemulsification, such as very dense or hypermature cataracts.

Why Choose Columbia?

Columbia ophthalmologists are at the forefront of modern cataract surgery. We offer many different methods of cataract surgery ranging from the standard phacoemulsification and the latest recent surgery advancement known as Femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS).