Of all the fields of medicine, cataract surgery has been one of the greatest beneficiaries from advances in techniques and technology. Not so long ago, cataract surgery involved lengthy delays marked by deteriorating vision while the cataract "ripened," an extended and confining recovery period, plus the need for unsightly "cataract" glasses or contact lenses to achieve functional vision after surgery.
Now, the surgery is a simple, out-patient procedure. The stay at an ambulatory surgery center is just a few hours and recovery time after surgery is dramatically reduced. Many people enjoy improved vision with minimal dependence upon corrective eyewear as a result of modern cataract surgery.
A few short years ago, the accepted method of cataract surgery was to open the front portion of the eye and pluck the cataract like a grape. This meant that the cataract had to "mature" or "ripen" to the point that it was firm, making it easier for the surgeon to grasp. For the cataract to reach this stage, vision in the eye became dramatically impaired, often to the point of near blindness.
At first, there were no suitable materials to use as sutures in the eye, so the eye had to be bandaged and heal on its own. This meant the patient was confined to bed with their head literally sandbagged to prevent movement that might jeopardize the healing process. "Cataract" glasses with thick lenses or contact lenses were required to assume the focusing power of the natural lens, which was removed during surgery. Unfortunately, memories of this type of have caused many people to wait needlessly before having cataract surgery.