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What to Expect with Cataract Surgery – Before, During & After

Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries in the world today. If you’re wondering what to expect with cataract surgery, here’s the answer.

Living with cataracts used to be a way of life for the majority of people suffering from this condition. When left untreated for too long, vision becomes blurry and difficult to see.

Cataracts affect over 24.4 million people in the United States. If you suffer from this disease, you’re likely wondering if there’s any way to find relief and see properly again.

Cataract surgery has grown in popularity over the years. If you’ve ever considered getting it done but you weren’t sure what the surgery entailed, we’re here to help.

Check out our guide on what to expect with cataract surgery and see how this amazing procedure can help you see again.

Understand Who Is a Good Candidate for Surgery

Many people view surgery as a long-term solution to a problem. Just because you have eye issues related to cataracts doesn’t mean this is the best choice, though.

Consider factors such as your age, overall health, and the condition of cataracts. If your condition is not severe, glasses, better lighting, or both, can offer easier solutions than having surgery.

Consider the cost associated with the surgery, too. Think about if insurance will cover any of it, and how much you’ll need to pay out of pocket. 

Talk with your doctor about your overall health, goals, and why you’re seeking surgery. Although it can be life-changing, ensure that this is the right solution for you before making an appointment to have it done.

The ideal candidate for cataract surgery is in good overall health, would benefit more from a permanent change rather than wearing glasses, and is ready to take care of themselves afterward.

Preparation Before Going In Is Important

Like anything in life, it’s easier to show up to a big event prepared and knowing what to expect. Once you’ve decided that surgery is the right choice for you, figure out what you’ll need to do for the night before. 

You’ll likely have orders to not to consume any food or liquids at least 12 hours the night before. It’s common for your doctor to have an eye exam with you at least a week or two before you go in for surgery.

If there are any important directions, your doctor can let you know at this time. Otherwise, ask questions on anything you don’t understand. 

Having any type of surgery can feel overwhelming, but feeling prepared and knowing what to expect can help manage your nerves. 

Understand How This Surgery Is Different

The most common factor associated with surgery is the fact that you’ll go under anesthesia. With cataract surgery, it’s common to get a medication that can help you relax, while keeping you awake throughout the process.

You’ll likely get another medication to prevent eye pain or something that numbs it, so the surgery can take place.

The doctor or surgeon then makes an incision in your eye, allowing them to break down the cataract and remove it. You’ll have a new lens crafted from a man-made material such as silicone. 

Once the new lens is inserted, the eye is closed up, and you’re all done. In most uncomplicated cases, surgery takes about an hour to perform. 

If you have cataracts in both eyes and plan on having surgery, this will occur on two separate occasions. Each surgery is two weeks or more apart from one another, allowing your body to rest and rebuild before it goes through another traumatic event. 

If you’re worried about staying in the hospital, take note that cataract surgery is considered an outpatient procedure. As long as you have someone to drive you home, you can leave when you get your aftercare information post-surgery. 

Know the Side Effects and What to Expect With Cataract Surgery

Although this type of surgery has many modern advancements and remains relatively uncomplicated, there are certain side effects to be aware of after cataract surgery. 

Side Effects

Everyone reacts differently while recovering from surgery. It’s possible you’ll have some symptoms and not others.

Pay attention and let your doctor know if they go on for an extended period of time or become painful. In some cases, medical attention right away is important.

  • Bleeding anywhere around the eye
  • Drooping of the eyelid
  • Overall pressure around the eye area
  • Swelling
  • Eye infection
  • Issues related to retinal detachment

Your doctor can let you know which symptoms require immediate help and when to contact them. Most people don’t experience all these symptoms after their surgery, but it’s helpful to know what could occur and what to look for.

Expectations After Surgery

Although you’re having surgery to get rid of your cataracts, it’s important to remain realistic and not expect the surgery to be a cure-all. 

In many cases, people still need glasses and contacts even after cataract surgery. 

Once the surgery is over, remember it’s still important to maintain your checkups and visit your eye doctor on a regular basis. 

Taking Care After Surgery

When going through cataract surgery recovery, it’s important to take it easy and get plenty of rest. You’ll feel out of it and need time to adjust to your new lens implants.

Once the surgery is over, it’s normal to experience topical issues, such as having itchy eyes or an overall feeling of soreness in the whole area. You can take care of yourself by sleeping and getting plenty of rest.

Avoid activities that can strain your eyes, such as driving, reading or usingDon’t strain your eyes, drive, and avoid using a computer a lot if your eyes start to feel irritated. Take any prescriptions you’re given to avoid infection and combat pain.

When you sleep, you’ll need to wear a special eye mask. This protects your eye as you move around at night, ensuring you don’t accidentally injure it or tear anything open while sleeping. 

Attend any follow-up appointments you have and call your doctor if you’re still in pain. Most folks find themselves totally healed after two months, but your time might vary a little.

Issues That Can Occur After Surgery

In an ideal situation, you’ll recover from surgery and go on with life as normal — or even better, now that you can see everything clearly. But like anything in life, complications can arise, even when you have the help of a knowledgeable doctor.

After cataract surgery, some folks notice they have an issue known as Posterior Capsulotomy.  This condition refers to your new artificial lens thickening up inside, making your vision appear cloudy. 

This is easily corrected with a laser treatment that beams light directly into your eye and opens up the capsule.

Let your doctor know following your surgery if you’re experiencing any cloudiness that doesn’t go away. Knowing you need a Posterior Capsulotomy shortly after cataract surgery can frighten some people, but understand that cloudy vision is sometimes part of the healing process and unavoidable.

Don’t let the fear of a second treatment keep you from getting the help you need with your eyes. Talk with your doctor and find out how likely it is you’ll have this issue.

You’ll find even if you need additional help afterward, you’ll feel confident about getting your vision back.

Learn More

If you’re not sure what to expect with cataract surgery, now you know what’s in store. Determining if this is the best solution for you is the first step you and your doctor need to take. 

Preparing for surgery and knowing you’ll remain awake during the process can help you feel in control, and that your doctor makes you as comfortable as possible before starting surgery. 

Watching for side effects means you’ll get the chance to spot a problem before it develops into something serious. This means you and your doctor can intervene right away. 

Even though the recovery process takes a while, you’ll feel confident when you realize how much of your vision you’ve regained. If you’re ready to take the plunge and start on the path toward surgery, we’re here to help.

Contact us today, and get your first appointment scheduled. With both laser and surgery services, and a team of qualified doctors, we can help you feel good about your cataract surgery experience.