Cataract Surgery Q&A: What to Expect Before, During and After
Courtesy Key-Whitman Eye Center
Has your eye doctor recommended cataract surgery? You’re not alone. We will all develop cataracts as we age and they will gradually reduce our quality of vision. But there’s good news! With cataract surgery, the old lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens. It’s not only safe, it’s painless and effective!
In case you’re in the beginning stages of considering laser cataract surgery, you most likely have a great deal of questions. At what point is the best time for cataract surgery? How would I plan for cataract surgery? What should I expect during the surgery and in the weeks that follow?
Key-Whitman’s Dr. Martin L. Faber was asked to answer some of the most commonly asked questions. After you read his answers in this article, we’ve also provided a helpful checklist to prepare you for cataract surgery and while you heal.
Question 1: What are the common symptoms of cataracts?
The most common complaint we hear from cataract patients is night vision difficulties, where the quality of vision is declining and they experience a lot of glare, halos and starburst symptoms, especially when driving. People also complain of a haze or fog obstructing their vision and will notice their vision gets blurrier over time.
Question 2: How do I prepare for cataract surgery?
Before your procedure, you’ll undergo a preoperative exam to ensure you are physically healthy enough to have surgery, determine the level of correction needed and to review the type of intraocular lens options available (monovision, accommodative, multifocal, astigmatic correction, etc.).
Before a patient’s procedure, Key-Whitman’s counselors walk the patient through the process, review insurance coverage and ensure the lens option the patient selects best meets their goals. If there is an eye drop protocol associated with their surgery, the counselor will also go through the drop sequence involved (antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories).
Question 3: When is it time to get cataract surgery?
When cataracts have worsened to the point where they prevent you from performing day-to-day tasks and interfere with your quality of life, it’s time to consider cataract surgery.
Cataracts will gradually worsen and we start to make a lot of accommodations for our vision as we get older. Essentially, we assume how well we see is normal. But if it gets to the point where you’re afraid to drive at night, can’t see well enough to safely take your medication or do household chores, and feel a loss of independence due to failing vision, cataract surgery can allow you to enjoy life again.
Question 4: What misconceptions do people have about cataract surgery, and what can I really expect during the procedure?
In the past, cataract surgery was quite invasive, there were fewer lens options, and healing took much longer. The biggest misconceptions people have is that the procedure is painful and complicated. That couldn’t be farther from the truth today.
Question 5: What can I expect following cataract surgery?
After your surgery, the eye surgeon will review the procedure with you and address any questions you have. Typically, patients leave with a protective eye patch, which will be removed during their follow-up visit the next day. Subsequent follow-up examinations will be scheduled approximately every two weeks until the eye is healed.
Key-Whitman uses the most advanced technology available in the market, so healing occurs more quickly today and with fewer complications. Once the eyes have healed and adjusted, most patients are surprised by the improvement in their vision. They can see clearly again and notice how colors are much more vibrant than what they could see with cataracts. Depending on the type of intraocular lenses patients choose, many become less dependent on glasses.
You should also be aware that the surgeon won’t operate on both eyes during the same visit. Surgeries are typically scheduled one to six weeks apart, with three weeks being the average time. This allows plenty of time for the first eye to heal and the patient to realize the full extent of correction in that eye.
The following checklist should be used as a guide. Your eye doctor will provide instructions specific to your needs.
Key-Whitman Eye Center Cataract Surgery Checklist
Prior to surgery:
- Schedule a consultation and pre-operative eye exam to verify you are a good candidate for cataract surgery and if any medications you take could interfere with the surgery.
- Meet with a patient counselor to discuss questions and concerns, verify insurance coverage, finalize which type of intraocular lens you would like implanted and schedule surgery and next day follow-up appointment.
- If your eye surgeon recommends antibiotic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drops prior to surgery, receive your eye drop prescriptions and review the drop sequence required (drops per day, type of drops, period of time prior to surgery, etc.) with your patient counselor.
- Arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you to Key-Whitman’s eye surgery center in Dallas on surgery day as you won’t be allowed to drive yourself home due to the twilight sedation.
Day of surgery:
- Arrive at the surgery center at your assigned time and check in at the front desk.
- Go through pre-surgery prep, vitals check, numbing drops and twilight sedation.
- Undergo surgery (typically lasts 20 minutes or less) and recover from sedation.
- Recap surgery with surgical team, during which time vitals are checked and a snack is provided and a piece of tape or protective eye shield is applied to the eye.
- Review written post-surgical instructions with surgical team, preferably with a family member or friend present.
- If on an eye drop protocol, receive post-surgical drops and drop sequence prior to departure.
- Return home and plan to rest for the remainder of the day. Abide by any lifting/physical restrictions required by the surgeon.
Days and weeks following surgery:
- Next day, return for first follow-up visit with a friend or family member and schedule next follow-up visit.
- Diligently follow any drop protocol provided to prevent infection and promote healing.
- Expect some minor eye discomfort and itching for two to three days, but DO NOT touch, wipe, rub or put pressure on the operated eye. A clean, warm, damp washcloth may be gently applied to eye for 10 minutes to remove tear residue.
- Be prepared to experience initial blurriness that will clear up in the coming days. Other normal side effects that may occur include: Double vision, redness or bloody areas in the white part of the eye, and seeing pink or funny colors.
- Contact Key-Whitman if you experience any pain and/or if medication you typically take for a headache isn’t working, or if you have any other questions or concerns.
- Do not swim, use hot tubs or participate in water activities––besides bathing or showering––for 10 days.
- Do not wear eye make up for 10 days.
- Wear eye protection––glasses, sunglasses––during all waking hours for 10 days.
- Continue to refrain from rubbing your eye for a month following surgery.
- Two weeks following surgery, return for follow-up visit to check progress.
- Schedule upcoming follow-up visits and surgery for second eye.
- Keep in mind the healing process for each eye may vary significantly, with both still in the normal range of recovery.
Have additional questions about cataract surgery at Key-Whitman?
Our patient care representatives are here to help! We can answer initial questions by phone and schedule your consultation. There is also a lot of great information and educational videos on our website, www.keywhitman.com.
Six locations to serve you in Dallas, Mesquite, North Dallas, Plano, North Arlington & South Arlington. www.keywhitman.com 800-442-5330