Cataract Surgery

  • Medical Author:
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideCataracts Causes, Symptoms, Vision Tests, and Surgery

Cataracts Causes, Symptoms, Vision Tests, and Surgery

What should one expect prior to and on the day of cataract surgery?

Prior to the day of surgery, your ophthalmologist will discuss the steps that will occur during surgery. Your ophthalmologist or a staff member will ask you a variety of questions about your medical history and perform a brief physical exam. You should discuss with your ophthalmologist which, if any, of your routine medications you should avoid prior to surgery. Well prior to surgery, several calculations will be made to determine the appropriate power of intraocular lens to implant. A specific artificial lens is chosen based on the length of the eye and the curvature of the cornea (the clear portion of the front of the eye). The lens power of a monofocal intraocular lens can be chosen to either give you best distance, intermediate or near vision without glasses. Some people who have been nearsighted (myopic) all of their life might prefer to continue to wear no glasses for reading and wear distance glasses after cataract surgery.

It is important to remember to follow all of your preoperative instructions, which will usually include not eating or drinking anything after midnight the day prior to your surgery. As cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, arrangements should be made with family or friends to transport you home after the surgery is complete. Most cataract surgery occurs in either an ambulatory surgery center or a hospital. You will be required to report several hours before the scheduled time for your surgery. You will meet with the anesthesiologist who will work with the ophthalmologist to determine the type of sedation that will be necessary. Most cataract surgery is done with only minimal sedation without having to put you to sleep. Numbing drops or an injection around the eye will be used to decrease sensation of the eye.

During the actual procedure, there will be several people in the operating room in addition to your ophthalmologist. These include an anesthesiologist and operating-room technicians. While cataract surgery does not normally involve a significant amount of pain, medications are used to minimize the amount of discomfort. The actual removal of the clouded lens will take approximately 20 minutes. You may notice the sensation of pressure from the various instruments used during the procedure and will be seeing the light from the operating microscope. After leaving the operating room, you will be brought to a recovery room where your doctor will prescribe several eyedrops that you will need to take for a few weeks postoperatively. While you may notice some discomfort, most patients do not experience significant pain following surgery. If you do experience decreasing vision or significant pain, you should contact your ophthalmologist immediately.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/26/2016

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