What was cataract treatment like in the 1900's? How has it improved since then?

Risky. Starting just prior to 1900, topical anesthesia was available so cataract surgery could be performed painlessly. The procedure at the time involved opening the eye and bluntly removing the entire lens and hoping that would be all that would exit the eye. A strong eyeglass was required afterwards. Now with ultrasound and microscopes, etc. cataract removal can be done safely and predictably.
1949 Implants. Before 1949, couching (use needle to push cataract back into eye (still used in China some places) and intracapsular cataract surgery used requiring thick glasses after surgery & many risks. More info: [email protected] & video.