A cataract forms when the natural lens of your eye becomes cloudy. Having a cataract does not harm your eye, but does cause your vision to become blurry, cloudy, or out of focus. A patient should have cataract surgery when his or her vision becomes unsatisfactory, or does not allow him or her to enjoy everyday tasks and activities.
Most often patients have trouble reading, seeing road signs, or watching TV. If patients can see what they need to see and do what they need to do, then usually cataract surgery can wait. However, if patients find that they avoid activities, such as driving at night, then it is time to consider cataract surgery.
Questions about Cataract Surgery
What is a cataract and what is cataract surgery?
A cataract is a cloudiness of the natural lens of the eye. Cataract surgery removes the natural lens and replaces it with a new artificial lens. This new artificial lens is clear and is intended to last your entire life. Cataract is not a film or cloud that grows on the eye and needs to be removed. A cataract will not grow back.
Will I see better after cataract surgery?
Yes, more than 9/10 people see better after cataract surgery, those that do not usually have some other eye problem like glaucoma, macular degeneration or diabetic eye disease.
Is cataract surgery safe?
Yes, the majority of patients do very well and are completely recovered in about 3-4 weeks. Like all surgery, complications or problems can occur. Fortunately, vision threatening problems occur in less than 1% of patients. During your appointment, our surgeons will talk more about your individual risks and benefits of cataract surgery.
How is the actual surgery done?
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure. You may go home almost immediately after the surgery. During the surgery you are given relaxation medicine. Most patients are awake and relaxed during surgery. The cataract is removed and a new artificial lens implant is placed in your eye. The surgery takes about 15 minutes.
Can I wear my contact lenses before my cataract surgery?
Precise measurements of the natural focus of the eye are taken prior to cataract surgery. These measurements are used to calculate the lens implant prescription that best corrects your vision. Contact lenses slightly change the natural focus of the eye and cause these measurements to be less accurate than possible. It is recommended that patients stay out of contact lenses, usually for a minimum of 2 weeks, but possibly longer, before these measurements are taken. This allows the eye to return to its natural focus. Sometimes these measurements need to be repeated to ensure accuracy. Once accurate measurements are taken, patients can return to wearing contact lenses up until the day of surgery. Patients can also wear contact lenses after the eye is healed from cataract surgery.
What is the recovery after cataract surgery?
After surgery you need to take care of your eye. You need to stay out of dirty dusty environments, avoid splashes, heavy lifting and touching your eye. You will have eye drops to do for a 2-4 weeks after surgery. After about a month there are no special instructions.
Will I need glasses after surgery?
Cataract surgery will help you become less dependent on glasses. For example, after surgery many patients see well enough to drive without glasses. Your desire or need to wear glasses after surgery will depend on your individual vision needs and the tasks you are doing.
Do your surgeons use a laser to perform cataract surgery?
No. Although lasers can be used for cataract surgery, use of laser has not been shown to improve the visual outcome or the safety of the cataract surgery. Laser surgery is generally more expensive to the patient as well.
Is cataract surgery covered by my insurance?
Yes, cataract is a medical condition covered by medical insurance. Your insurance will cover cataract surgery in the same way it would cover a broken leg or appendicitis. Your individual co-pay or deductible depends on your insurance plan.
What do I need to do to prepare for a cataract surgery?
There are no special steps are needed to prepare for cataract surgery. After the surgery, you have some activity restrictions. It is best to take care of any activities, like mowing grass, travel, or extra work before cataract surgery.
What can I expect after the surgery is complete?
Immediately after your surgery, your eye may be red, scratchy or blurry for a few days. Generally, people see well and the eye is comfortable in just a few days. After a few weeks your eye is completely healed and you can enjoy the improvement in vision.