Cataract Surgery: An Overview of What to Expect

If you have cataracts, surgery offers a safe solution to improve your vision and focus.

This procedure removes the lens of your eye and in most cases, it will be replaced with an artificial lens to help you see more clearly.

If you're planning to have this procedure, read on to learn what to expect before, during, and after cataract surgery so you can be prepared.

Before Surgery

Once your cataract surgery is scheduled, you'll be given specific instructions to help you prepare. Your doctor may tell you not to eat or drink anything for 12 hours before the surgery.

If you're currently taking medications, you might also need to stop taking them temporarily. This is usually recommended to help reduce the risk of bleeding when you undergo the procedure.

If you're taking medication for prostate issues, let your doctor know. Certain drugs prescribed for prostate problems may interfere with cataract surgery.

Your doctor will likely give you a prescription for antibiotic eye drops. Follow the directions as instructed and use the eye drops one to two days before surgery begins.

Most patients are able to go home on the same day as their surgery. However, you will not be able to drive, so it's important to have a friend or family member available to take you home.

You may need to ask someone to help you around your home for the first few days after your surgery. Your doctor will ask you to limit certain activities like lifting or bending. These limitations typically last for approximately one week after the cataract surgery is complete.

About one week before the scheduled surgery, you will receive an ultrasound test to measure the size and shape of your eye. This test is painless and helps your doctor determine which type of lens implant you will need.

What to Expect During Surgery

Cataract surgery is usually an outpatient procedure and should take no longer than one hour to complete. Your doctor will put eye drops in your eye that dilate your pupils before they begin.

You will also receive a local anesthetic to numb the area. If you're nervous or worried, you may ask for a sedative to help you feel calm and more relaxed. You'll still remain awake, but you will feel groggy as your doctor performs the surgery.

After your eyes are numbed, the doctor will remove the clouded lens and replace it with a new, artificial lens implant. There are some cases where the cataract will be removed but no artificial lens will be implanted.

There are two main ways cataract surgery is performed: using an ultrasound probe, or by making an incision in the eye and removing the lens. With the probe method, the surgeon makes a tiny incision in your cornea. Next, a thin probe is inserted into the lens where the cataract is formed.

The probe uses ultrasound waves to break up the cataract and then removes the fragments. The back of the lens area stays intact and gives the new artificial lens a place to rest securely. In some cases, stitches are required to help close up the incision in your cornea.

With the incision method, the surgeon uses tools to remove the front part of your lens and the cloudy area containing the cataract. The back portion of the lens is left in place, similar to the method used with the ultrasound probe. Stitches are required if your doctor needs to make an incision.

When the cataract is removed, your doctor will then insert the new artificial lens. This new lens should help you see things more clearly and experience improvements in your vision once you heal.

What to Expect After Cataract Surgery

Most patients should start to see an improvement in vision within a few days after cataract surgery. It's important to note that your vision might be blurry at first, so allow some time for your eyes to heal and adjust.

After the surgery, colors might appear brighter since you're now looking through a brand-new lens. Since cataracts are usually brown or yellow in color, the new clear lens can make colors appear much crisper.

A day or two after the surgery, you will need to see your eye doctor for a checkup. Prepare to return the following week and then about one month later for a final checkup to ensure your surgery is healing correctly.

You might feel a bit of mild discomfort and itching for a few days after cataract surgery. Try to avoid pushing or rubbing your eye during this time.

A protective shield that covers your eye may be given to you to protect your eye until it heals. The patch will need to be worn a few days after your surgery, and a protective shield should be worn when you sleep.

You will also receive a prescription for eye drops or another form of medication to help prevent infection. This medication will reduce inflammation and control the pressure in your eye. Some doctors inject the medication into your eye during surgery.

Most pain, irritation, and itching should go away after a few days. By the end of eight weeks, your eye should be completely healed.

If you experience vision loss, increased redness of the eye, light flashes, or if your eyelids swell, talk to your doctor right away. You should also contact your doctor if the pain is still persisting after taking over-the-counter pain medication.

You will need to continue using your prescription eyeglasses after cataract surgery. Once you're healed, expect to see your eye doctor to receive a new, updated prescription.

Clear Vision with Cataract Surgery

Once you know what to expect before, during, and after cataract surgery, you'll be ready to schedule an appointment. This surgery can improve not just your vision, but also your quality of life.

Talk to your doctor if you experience any unusual side effects after surgery. After your eyes are healed, you'll be pleased with the results.

If you'd like to schedule surgery or take advantage of our other services, visit our website or contact us today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.