Cataract Surgery FAQs
Learn more about cataracts by exploring frequently asked questions
What are cataracts
Cataracts occur when the clear, transparent lens inside the eye turns cloudy, causing blurred vision. The clouded lens changes the way light enters the eye.
What causes cataracts?
Cataracts usually are the result of aging. Other causes may include eye trauma, chronic eye disease and other medical conditions, such as diabetes. Some medications may speed up the development of cataracts. A healthy, balanced diet, sun protection, and avoiding smoking can slow the development of cataracts.
What are symptoms of cataracts?
These symptoms may indicate a cataract has developed:
- Clouded, blurred or fogged vision
- High sensitivity to light and glare
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Seeing halos around lights
- Colors appear dull or muted
- Glasses no longer seem effective
- Double vision
Surgery can be delayed for months or years if desired. Glasses and contact lenses can help people with cataracts until surgery takes place. People usually choose to have surgery when cataracts begin interfering with their daily life.
But left untreated, a cataract can cause blindness or a serious eye disease such as glaucoma.
How are cataracts treated?
Surgery to remove cataracts is the only treatment option. It is a common and effective procedure in which the clouded lens is removed and replaced with an intraocular lens. The procedure restores clear vision, but glasses or contact lenses still may be needed to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness that was present before surgery.
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure which typically takes about a day from surgery to follow-up visit.
Which kind of intraocular lens is best?
Your surgeon will help determine which option is best for you. Insurance coverage may be a factor.
Can the lens be replaced if it doesn’t work?
Lens implants are reliable.
How well will I see after cataract surgery?
Most people will experience improved vision within a few days. That improved vision may be better than 20/30 if the person has no other eye diseases.
Will I need glasses after cataract surgery?
Glasses and contact lens still may be needed, depending on the type of intraocular lens implanted and whether vision was corrected for nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. People who have a basic or toric lens implanted likely will need glasses or contact lens. People who have a multifocal lens implanted may not need glasses.
Can cataracts return after they are removed?
No. Cataract surgery permanently removes cataracts. However, some people experience blurred vision after having cataract surgery. This is easily treated with a simple laser procedure at our office.
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery risks include changes in vision, a detached retina, increased eye pressure, infection and adverse reaction to medication. Your surgeon will discuss the risks with you before surgery.
Is cataract surgery appropriate for someone with macular degeneration?
If you have macular degeneration, talk to your surgeon to determine the best treatment plan. Even with moderate Age Related Macular Degeneration, a person can experience improved vision with cataract surgery.
Is cataract surgery done on both eyes at the same time?
No. The second surgery usually follows two or three weeks after the first surgery.
How do I prepare for cataract surgery?
Use prescription eye drops as directed by your surgeon in the days before cataract surgery. Bring your eye drops on the day of surgery. You may eat solid food up to 8 hours before surgery. Drink only clear liquids up to 3 hours before surgery. Don’t wear makeup on the day of surgery. Facial hair should be clean and trimmed.
Should I stop taking aspirin before cataract surgery?
In most cases, no. If your surgeon asks you to stop taking aspirin a week before surgery, check with your primary care provider if necessary.
I have glaucoma. How do I prepare for cataract surgery?
Glaucoma must be under control before undergoing cataract surgery. Cataract surgery can temporarily or permanently change eye pressure, though such changes are difficult to predict. Increases in eye pressure after cataract surgery can be treated with medication. Talk to your surgeon to determine the best treatment plan.
How long does cataract surgery take?
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure. Expect to be at the surgery center for 2 to 3 hours.
What kind of anesthesia is used for cataract surgery?
Topical anesthesia eye drops are used to numb the eye. People having cataract surgery also are given an intravenous sedative to help them relax and stay comfortable during the procedure.
Are stitches required for cataract surgery?
In most cases, no. However, some people benefit from other types of incisions that require stitches. A surgeon will help create the best treatment plan for each person.
What will my eye feel like after cataract surgery?
Common symptoms after cataract surgery include:
- Eye irritation
- Sensitivity to light
- Color vision changes
These will gradually resolve in the days following surgery.
Other side effects may include:
- Blurred vision
- Seeing halos around lights
- Sensitivity to glare
They may make it difficult when driving at night or working in low light immediately after surgery, but this also should improve over time.
If you experience intense pain, vision loss or nausea, contact your surgeon immediately.
When can I drive before and after cataract surgery?
You cannot drive on the day of surgery and on the day after surgery. After your follow-up appointment the next day, your surgeon will decide when you can resume driving. Most people who have cataract surgery can return to limited activities the next day.
How active can I be after cataract surgery?
People who have cataract surgery may shower the next day. Avoid getting water in the eye for one week after surgery. They are not allowed to lift more than 10 pounds for a week after surgery. They may return to exercising and weightlifting one week after surgery, but they must wait one month to resume swimming.