Cataract surgery procedure and recovery

Before your operation, you will undergo a thorough preoperative assessment to determine what kind of lens implant is most suitable for you. The preoperative assessment involves examining the eyes and making sure that the symptoms are really caused by cataracts and not by any other eye disease. You will also be informed of the risks and benefits associated with the procedure and of any factors which may affect the outcome. The procedure is planned according to the patient’s individual needs, which helps reduce the need for glasses. Some patients can stop using glasses altogether.

Lens implant technology has developed quickly in recent years. Cataract surgery is nowadays refractive surgery. This means that in addition to removing the clouded lens, the surgeon attempts to correct any refractive errors in the eye. Special lenses are used as a way to reduce the patient’s need for glasses after the procedure. Unfortunately, no technology is perfect. Not all patients are able to stop using glasses altogether.

The surgery technique and type of lens implant are selected according to the patient’s needs. The options are:

  • Single vision lens implant: Our natural lens can focus on both close and distant objects. A single vision lens implant can correct short- and long-sightedness as well as astigmatism. This kind of implant restores good long- or short-range acuity, usually long-range. The patient will then still need reading glasses.
  • Toric lens implant: With modern cataract surgery techniques, corneal astigmatism can be corrected with a toric lens implant. After this procedure, the patient will have good long-range vision even without glasses. 
  • Multifocal lens implant: Some patients can be fitted with multifocal lens implants. This kind of implant restores both long- and short-range acuity, so that the patient can focus on both near and far objects without glasses. According to recent surveys, 88 per cent of cataract patients who have been fitted with multifocal lens implants no longer need glasses.

Modern cataract surgery techniques are safe and cost-effective. The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic and takes around 20 minutes. The clouded lens is removed through a 2.2-2.4-mm surgical incision. The lens is then replaced with an artificial one. The eyesight sharpens within a few days. Cataract surgery should be performed as soon as the cataracts are starting to cause problems. Do not wait until the problems become severe; the eye heals faster if the procedure is performed at an earlier stage.

After the procedure, the eye is covered with a protective eye patch. The patient is discharged from care after about an hour. The surgeon who performed the operation always examines the eye before the patient is discharged. If necessary, you can stay the night in the hospital after undergoing the procedure. Treatment with eye drops will begin the following day and continue for 3-4 weeks. For follow-up treatment, we recommend the Helsinki Deaconess Institute’s hospital Hoiva Oy. Older patients in particular may need help administering the eye drops. In the hospital, the treatment is taken care of safely and efficiently. The first 3-5 days after the procedure are important for the prevention on eye infections. After cataract surgery the patient needs 1-3 weeks of sick leave.

No surgical procedure is completely risk-free. The risks of cataract surgery are minimal. For instance, the risk of infection is only around one per mille. In some cases, the eye pressure may temporarily rise after the procedure. Swelling of the cornea might also appear after the procedure. If this happens, it takes longer for the eyesight to sharpen. In some cases, the posterior capsule of the eye becomes clouded. This condition, which can appear years after the procedure, is known as a posterior capsule opacity or a secondary cataract. The secondary cataract is treated with laser surgery during a normal appointment. The procedure only takes a few minutes.