Sometime after age 60, most people will be diagnosed with cataracts – a clouding of the eye’s natural lens that typically occurs with age. Fortunately, cataracts are treatable with surgery and vision can be restored, sometimes even improved, over vision before the cataract developed.
Although cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed surgeries around the world, it is still surgery, so it’s natural to have many questions. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to cataract surgery:
1. How long does cataract surgery take?
Cataract surgery, if uncomplicated, takes about 15 minutes on average to perform. After surgery, you will likely rest in a recovery area until you are no longer groggy from sedation or anesthesia. Cataract surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis and within a short period of time (just a few hours) you will be able to leave the surgery center. One thing to note is that you won’t be able to drive yourself home after surgery, so you will need to arrange a ride from a family member or friend prior to the procedure.
2. Does cataract surgery hurt?
You can expect little to no discomfort during cataract surgery. Although you will remain awake during the procedure, your doctor will take steps before and during the surgery to ensure that you are comfortable. Even though you will probably not be “put under” with general anesthesia, you will be given a sedative to help you relax, as well as numbing eye drops to prevent discomfort. When the medication wears off after the procedure, you may feel some minor discomfort, but it is typically quite mild and easily managed with over-the-counter pain medication.
3. What if I blink during cataract surgery?
Wondering about blinking during cataract surgery is a common concern. Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about it. Your doctor will use a holder to keep the eyelid open during the procedure to prevent blinking. It may sound uncomfortable, but in fact there will be little to no sensation since the eye will have been numbed before surgery.
4. Will I be awake during cataract surgery?
The answer is “yes.” Most people do remain awake during cataract surgery. But there is no reason to be alarmed. Your doctor will take steps both before and during surgery to ensure that you are comfortable. He or she will likely administer a sedative to keep you relaxed as well as numbing eye drops to prevent any pain or discomfort.
5. How long is recovery from cataract surgery?
Although you will probably feel good and want to resume normal activities as early as the day after cataract surgery, complete healing takes 6-8 weeks. Any soreness or discomfort will probably disappear within a few days.
6. Can I drive after cataract surgery?
You will not be able to drive home after cataract surgery and will need to arrange for a ride from the surgery center to your home . Of course, many people want to know, “When can I resume driving again?” The answer will depend on your individual recovery. Everyone’s recovery time varies, so it may take you more or less time than average. You may feel fine to drive even as soon as 24 hours after surgery, but your doctor will likely advise you to avoid driving for a longer period of time to be safe.
7. Are there side effects to cataract surgery?
While complications are infrequent, when they do occur, most can be successfully treated. The most common complication is known as a posterior capsule opacification, sometimes called a “secondary cataract.” (See question 8 for more information.)
8. Can cataracts come back?
No. Cataracts cannot come back. However, it is possible for vision to become blurry after cataract surgery, making it seem like the cataract has returned. This condition is called posterior capsule opacification, sometimes referred to as a “secondary cataract,” and can occur when the back portion of the membrane that surrounds the eye’s natural lens (left in place during cataract surgery) becomes hazy sometime after cataract surgery (even months later). This condition, which is not a cataract, is effectively treated with a brief laser procedure performed in your eye doctor’s office.
9. Can I have cataract surgery if I’ve had LASIK?
Because LASIK surgery has become more and more prevalent in recent years, this is a common concern for patients who later develop cataracts. Fortunately, the answer is “yes.” It is helpful to provide your eye doctor with your complete vision records prior to cataract surgery to help him or her select the best intraocular lens (IOL) for your unique situation.
10. Will I need glasses after cataract surgery?
Whether or not you will need glasses post-surgery depends on multiple factors such as your vision before you developed a cataract and which IOL you and your doctor select as best for you. Some IOLs, such as monofocal IOLs, correct vision at one distance, usually far vision. This means that glasses will likely be necessary to see up close. Other IOLs, such as multifocal IOLs, provide two or more focusing distances, and a newer technologies known as extended depth of focus IOLs, for example the IC-8 lens, may be able to provide a full range of vision from near to far, potentially minimizing the need for glasses post-surgery.
The IC-8 lens advantage
If you’ve been diagnosed with a cataract, discuss with your doctor the best lens replacement option for you. The IC-8 lens offers advantages over traditional monofocal and multifocal IOLs. It is designed to provide a natural range of vision from near to far, including mid-range vision needed to read a computer screen. With the IC-8 lens, one may achieve continuous and seamless vision at all distances. Learn more about the IC-8 lens.