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Cataract Surgery: What to Expect

Cataract surgery removes the cloudy eye lens caused by the aging process. Cataracts can cause severe blurring and other vision distortion, and may eventually lead to blindness. Using artificial lenses, eye surgeons permanently replace the eyes lens, resulting in significant vision improvements.

Preparing for Cataract Surgery

Prior to the day of your cataract surgery, you should expect:

  • A discussion with your eye doctor about what to expect.
  • An exam and a review of your medical history.
  • Measurements of your eyes to determine the appropriate lens power.
  • Instructions regarding what to eat and drink prior to the procedure.
  • Instructions regarding medications to stop taking before cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery is an “outpatient procedure,” meaning you will be released to go home shortly after the surgery is completed. You must arrange for someone to drive you home after the surgery, and you may want to have meals and chores completed ahead of time so you can rest.

You should experience vision improvements a few days after having your cataracts removed, but your vision will be blurry in the first days following surgery while your eyes heal.

The Day of your Cataract Surgery

You will be given topical or local anesthesia for cataract surgery. Your eye surgeon will use either anesthetic eye drops, or injections below and above the eye. Most eye surgeons tend to use eye drops. You may also be given a sedative to help relax you. You will be conscious throughout the procedure, which will take 20 to 30 minutes.

During cataract surgery, your eye surgeon will create a tiny incision in your eye. The cataract will be removed one of two ways:

  • A tiny, vibrating needle can be used to break up the cataract, which will then be suctioned away. This method uses ultrasonic energy to break up the cataract.
  • Surgical instruments will be used to remove the cataract through the incision. There is no ultrasonic energy used in this method.

You may feel pressure during your cataract surgery, but you should not feel any pain or severe discomfort. After the cataract has been removed, your eye surgeon will insert the artificial intraocular lens (IOL) into the incision. You will not feel any pain when the lens is inserted, and you will not be able to feel the lens inside your eye after surgery.

You will notice an improvement in vision several days after surgery, and you should experience total results within a month. Learn more about Cataract Surgery Recovery and Quality of Results after Cataract Surgery.

If you have cataracts and are interested in cataract surgery, please find an experienced cataract surgeon in your area to schedule a consultation.

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