Closeup of an eye with a cataractA cataract is formed when the natural lens of the eye, responsible for focussing light and producing sharp images, becomes cloudy and hardens, resulting in a loss of visual function.

A cataract is painless and usually develops gradually over several months or years. Normally, the onset of a cataract in one or both eyes may cause decreased night vision, impaired depth perception, and increased color distortion.

The cause of cataract formation is unknown, but scientists do know that a chemical change takes place within the lens of the eye with age. Cataracts are a part of the normal aging process, affecting 80 percent of people over age 60 (although not all cataracts are due to age). In fact, some babies can be born with cataracts, while some people develop them as a result of injury, prescription medication use or other causes.

Cataract Symptoms

  • Blurred, fuzzy or hazy vision
  • Feeling that there is a film over the eyes, or that one is looking through a veil or cobweb
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions
  • Sever decrease of vision when looking at a bright scene or background
  • Glare, halos or tails around headlights when driving at night

Though none of these symptoms necessarily mean you have a cataract, if you experience one or more, you should have your eyes examined by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Cataract Treatment

The only treatment for a cataract is surgical removal.

Years ago, when cataract surgery was less successful than today, cataracts were often not removed until the patient was almost blind. With advances in cataract surgery and intraocular lens (IOL) implants, it is no longer necessary for patients to wait until vision is severely impaired. Today, cataracts are usually removed at the point where visual impairment interferes with the daily activities of living – such as driving a car or reading.

Thanks to advances in microsurgical techniques, cataract surgery is performed without complications in more than 98 percent of cases.

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is performed using the most advanced microsurgical techniques typically on an outpatient basis. The actual procedure usually takes between 8 and 30 minutes, depending on the severity of the cataract.

IN illustration of the stages of cataract surgery

Cataract Surgery Chart

The cataract removal is performed under a specially designed, high-powered microscope. The most common method of removal is called “phacoemulsification,” where a small incision is made near the outer edge of the cornea and the cataract is removed by dividing it surgically and then emulsifying it with ultrasound waves. The lens capsule is left in place to support the Intraocular Lens (IOL) implant. At a later time, the capsule behind the IOL implant may become clouded. This is known as a “secondary cataract” and may be treated by the use of a laser.

Intraocular Lens (IOL) Implantation

An intraocular lens is used to replace the human lens in more than 95 percent of cataract patients. The IOL is usually implanted at the same time as cataract removal. The lens is typically implanted behind the iris, the colored portion of the eye, and cannot be seen. This is the natural position of the human intra-ocular lens. The incision is self-sealing without the need for sutures. However, there are times when fine sutures are needed to close the ocular incision.

Four Types of IOLs

Different Brands of IOLs

It is possible for an IOL to be implanted in a patient who has had a cataract removed in a previous surgical procedure. This is called “secondary IOL implantation.”

The first IOL was implanted in 1949 by an English ophthalmologist, Harold Ridley. Since then, many advances in IOL design have occurred. Today, IOLs may be made from a plastic called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), silicon or an acrylic material, which has been found to be most compatible with the delicate tissue of the human eye. The latter two can be folded and inserted through a small sutureless incision.

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is a progressive clouding of the natural crystalline lens of the eye. The lens will become opaque, or cloudy and light will be prevented from entering the eye. Symptoms will include difficulty driving at night, dimming color patterns, and increased blurry vision that might be confused with focusing problems. Everyone will experience cataracts if they live long enough but this clouding of the lens can occur at different points in time for various individuals.

How is a Cataract Diagnosed?

The eye doctors at Glaucoma-Cataract Consultants will perform a thorough examination of your eyes. Various pre-operative testing including glare testing and contrast sensitivity tests will be initiated. Depending on the actual stage of the cataract we will determine if surgery is necessary. If you feel that you may be experiencing the preliminary stages of a progressing cataract please call us to set up an immediate appointment.

What are the Main Types of Cataract?

There are mainly three types of cataract:

  • A nuclear cataract (MOST common form developed from the adult aging process)
  • A subcapsular cataract
  • A cortical cataract

How Long Does Cataract Surgery Take?

You will be in our facility at Glaucoma-Cataract Consultants for about two-three hours. You will be in the operating room for about twenty minutes, and the procedure itself will take about ten minutes. After surgery, you will rest in comfort while you recover from the initial surgery before going home.

Will I Feel Any Discomfort During Cataract Surgery?

A nurse anesthetist will administer mild sedation to relax you and place eye drops to numb your eyes before the procedure.

Can I Wear my Contacts Until the Day of Cataract Surgery?

No, your contact lenses may change some of the measurements we take before the surgery. The staff at Glaucoma-Cataract Consultants will make sure you are given the proper instructions for the time period that we will need you out of your contact lenses.

Are There Any Restrictions After Cataract Surgery?

No heavy lifting or strenuous activity for 1 week after surgery. We advise our patients to not lift anything over 15-20 lbs for the immediate 24 hours after the cataract surgery. Do not rub your eye and do not get your eye wet. You should also avoid driving and alcoholic beverages for twenty-four hours. We advise you to postpone showering until after you see the doctor the next day.

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Our Locations


1000 Bower Hill Road, Suite 7200
Pittsburgh, Pa 15243

tel. 412.572.6121

fax. 412.571.1327

Hours of Operation:
8:30AM-4:30 PM

Mt. Pleasant

Executive Office Building
220 Bessemer Road Suite 101
Mt. Pleasant, PA 15666

tel. 724.547.5733

fax. 724.547.2234

Hours of Operation:
8:30AM-4:30 PM


Vista One
17 Arentzen Boulevard, Suite 201
Charleroi, PA 15022

tel. 724.483.3688

fax. 724.483.3936

Hours of Operation:
8:30AM-4:30 PM