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Intraocular Lens Placement


Intraocular lens (IOL) placement is surgery to put a new lens in your eye. Your lens is a clear disc located on the front part of your eye that directs light to the back of your eye.

Eye Anatomy


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.
  • A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine.
  • Vital signs: Healthcare providers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. Vital signs give information about your current health.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Anesthesia:
    • Local or monitored anesthesia: This is a shot of numbing medicine put into your eye. You may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery, but you should not have pain. With local anesthesia, you will be fully awake during surgery. With monitored anesthesia care, you will also be given medicine through an IV. This medicine keeps you comfortable, relaxed, and drowsy during surgery.
    • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
  • Antibiotic medicine: Your healthcare provider may put antibiotic medicine in your IV. This medicine is given to help treat or prevent infection caused by bacteria.

During your surgery:

  • If you are having cataract surgery, your healthcare provider may do a procedure called a phacoemulsification (PHACO). During PHACO, your old lens is turned into a liquid and removed with a syringe. A syringe is a hollow tube with a plunger that is used to remove liquid from your eyes. If you are having IOL placement for other eyesight problems, your old lens may be left in place.
  • During the IOL placement, one or more small cuts will be made in your cornea. The cornea is the clear, round covering on the front part of your eye. If the new lens is foldable, smaller cuts are made. If your new lens is hard, the cuts will be bigger. The old lens will be removed or left in place. The new lens is put in front or behind the iris (colored part of the eye). The cuts are closed with tiny stitches or are left to heal on their own.

After your surgery:

Your healthcare provider may put antibiotic and steroid medicines into your eye. He will then place an eye patch over your eye. This helps protect your eye from injury and infection. You may be taken to a room where your healthcare provider will watch you closely for problems. Do not get up until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Your healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay for you to go home. Do not drive yourself home.

  • Medicines:
    • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
    • Antibiotics: This medicine may be given to help you fight infection. They may be given as eyedrops or ointment applied directly to your eyes.
    • Steroids: Steroid medicine may be given in the form of eyedrops to decrease inflammation.


  • You may need new glasses to see up close. You may have problems seeing at night. Your lens may get damaged or slip out of place, and you may need surgery again. You may see light differently than usual, such as with halo rings or streaks. You may form new cataracts or get glaucoma (increased eye pressure). Your cornea or other parts of your eye may become swollen.
  • You may have problems moving your eyes or opening and closing your eyelids. Your retina may break away from the back of your eyeball. You may get endophthalmitis, which is a serious eye infection. You may have bleeding inside your eye or may become blind. Without surgery, your eyesight may get worse and you may become blind.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Intraocular Lens Placement (Inpatient Care)

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