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Cataract FAQs

Will new glasses help people with cataracts see better?

Sometimes they do. During a complete eye examination, we evaluate vision and the total health of the eye, also screening for other disorders like glaucomamacular degeneration, and diabetes. This allows us to determine whether a change in glasses would provide a significant improvement in vision. When cataracts become severe, even new glasses will not help because the eye is seeing through a cloudy internal lens that can not be corrected with glasses.


Can cataracts be reversed or prevented?

Wearing ultraviolet (UV) protecting sunglasses could possibly help reduce the progression of cataracts. It is worthwhile for most people to invest in a good quality pair of sunglasses, which need not be very expensive. Also, a balanced diet containing a reasonable amount of antioxidant vitamins could possibly help prevent cataracts.


Do cataracts happen to both eyes at the same time?

Generally, cataracts progress at about the same rate in both eyes. Many people are more bothered by cataract symptoms in one eye first, however. During an examination, we can determine whether any other conditions such as macular degeneration are also contributing to difficulty with vision.


When should I have my cataract removed and why?

The decision for surgery is based on when visual difficulties begin to interfere with normal activities of daily living, like driving, reading, work, or hobbies.


Is cataract surgery performed in a hospital or as an outpatient?

Cataract surgery is performed as an outpatient and almost always performed in an ambulatory surgery center. The staff is highly skilled in helping patients comfortably go through the steps of surgery.


How long does the cataract surgery take?

Most people are in the surgical center for approximately two to three hours, including pre-op, surgery, and post-operative time. Each patient is unique and times may vary but generally speaking, the actual cataract surgery procedure usually takes 10-20 minutes.


Is cataract surgery performed under general anesthesia?

Cataract surgery is performed with local anesthesia only. We provide intravenous medications to help patients fully relax. We also administer local medicines around the eye so that patients don’t feel any discomfort during surgery.


Is cataract surgery painful?

Most people say that there is no pain during or after cataract surgery. They may experience a scratchy sensation (like an eyelash in the eye) and mild soreness for about 24 hours after surgery. If necessary, they take aspirin, Advil (ibuprofen), or Tylenol (acetaminophen). Stronger pain medicine is rarely needed.


How is the cataract removed?

The cataract is removed through a small opening (about 3mm) in the front of the eye near the cornea. This allows the surgeon to dissolve the lens of the eye and remove it in tiny pieces. Your selected lens implant made of acrylic is folded on to itself, then inserted into the eye and unfolded in the proper position. In this position, the new lens will remain permanently.


After the surgery will my cataract come back?

After cataract surgery, it is impossible for a cataract to come back because the lens of the eye, where the cataract grows, has been removed. The new lens implant will last a lifetime and will never need replacement. It is possible, however, for a cloudy film to grow on the lens capsule membrane that is located behind the lens implant. This occurs in about 40% of cataract surgery patients but, usually many months or years after surgery. Treatment of this film, sometimes called a “secondary cataract”, is done with a laser in a simple office type procedure (YAG) that involves no postoperative restrictions or downtime for most people.


What restrictions will I have after cataract surgery?

For the first four hours after surgery, aclear plastic shield is placed on the healing eye and the effects of anesthesia will be wearing off. During this time we recommend restful activity. Eating, watching television, reading, and walking around the house are allowed.

For the first few days after surgery, heavy lifting (more than 20 pounds) is not allowed, and we recommend avoiding eye makeup for one week.

There are other restrictions as well after surgery. These are fully discussed with our doctors and counselors before surgery. For more information about restrictions after surgery, contact us.


What are the risks of cataract surgery?

There are risks with every kind of surgery, and cataract surgery is no exception. The risk of severe complications, such as infection, severe inflammation, or retinal detachment is about 1 in 1000. Other, less severe complications of surgery may occur more frequently, as often as 1 in 100 times. These less severe complications can include the need for additional surgery or prolonged recovery time with delayed visual improvement.

This is not a complete list of risks that occur with surgery, and individual patients may have other risks based on their co-existing medical or eye conditions. Our doctors have extensive experience performing cataract surgery in unusual circumstances and can fully discuss these risks during an office consultation. Contact us to schedule your consultation for cataract surgery.

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