What Can I Expect With Cataract Surgery?

Has your eye doctor recently mentioned cataracts and cataract surgery? You are likely not alone. In fact, cataracts are very common and more than half of people in the United States will require some form of cataract surgery before they reach the age of 80. Still, knowing that cataract surgery is a necessity can still be nerve-wracking, especially since it involves a procedure that is performed on the eyes. However, cataracts can significantly impair a person's vision, and removing them is a must. Knowing what to expect with cataract surgery can help even the most nervous patient relax before, during and after the procedure.

What Happens Before Surgery?

There are a few different things that a patient has to go through before they will have their cataract surgery. Approximately a week before the procedure, the doctor will perform an ultrasound test. This is done to measure the shape and size of the eyes, which can help the doctor figure out the best type of lens implant to use. A doctor may also request that a patient stop taking certain medications, not eat or drink 12 hours before the surgery and use antibiotic eye drops in the days leading up to the surgery.

What Happens at Surgery?

Once a patient arrives for their cataract surgery and has filled out all necessary paperwork, drops will be put into the eye. This is done to dilate the pupil. Patients can choose to stay awake during the surgery and have an anesthetic used to nub the nerves. However, some patients choose to be put to sleep for the short procedure. Surgery typically lasts for an hour. After the surgery is finished, the patient will be monitored for a short period of time to ensure that no problems arise. The patient will also have a patch placed over their eye, and will not be allowed to drive home. 

What is the Recovery Like?

The recovery from cataract surgery is relatively short. Patients typically go home the same day the procedure is performed and will see the doctor again in a few days. There can be some discomfort, pain or itching in the days following cataract surgery. Patients should not touch the eye, and should generally rest for the first few days. Doctors may also prescribe eyedrops or antibiotics to help prevent an infection.

If you are having trouble seeing and feel that cataracts may be the problem, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor like Thomas L. Lawrence, M.D., P.A. as soon as possible. If you have cataracts in both eyes, expect to have two different procedures, as doctors will generally do one eye at a time.