Cataracts Surgery Information
The diagnosis and assessment of cataracts can be done at any of our Surevision Eye Centers locations. It is a multi-step and precise process that is further outlined in the Cataracts section of our webpage.
Once your doctor has diagnosed you with visually significant cataracts he or she will talk with you about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of cataract treatment. If you decide together to proceed with cataract surgery in order to improve your vision you will then speak with one of our experienced surgery schedulers who will find a date that works well for your schedule.
Causes & Risk Factors
For nearly all patients cataracts are caused by an aging of the natural lens that leads to a breakdown of its proteins. This results in a progressive clouding of the lens. While the average patient typically doesn’t get visually significant cataracts until age 60 or beyond, there are a number of risk factors that are known to cause cataracts earlier in life. In fact, some babies are born with cataracts as a result of genetic defects or infection while in the womb.
Other risk factors may include:
- Eye Injury
- Eye Surgery
- Certain medical treatments including radiation and chronic steroid use
- Exposure to UV light
Once your cloudy natural lens (aka cataract) is removed surgically, it will be replaced with a clear, man-made, intraocular lens (or IOL). There are three main categories of IOLs that can be used to improve your vision:
- Standard Single-Focus Lens – This is the lens that is covered by your insurance. This lens adjusts the overall focus to give you sharp vision at a single point, usually good distance vision. However, it does not correct for any astigmatism. If you have astigmatism you will likely need prescription bifocal glasses for the sharpest vision with this lens.
- Toric Lens – This lens is still a single-focus IOL, but it has the added advantage of being able to decrease or eliminate your astigmatism at the time of surgery. This allows for much sharper distance vision without glasses for patients with pre-operative astigmatism. The IOL is not covered by insurance and is associated with an out-of-pocket expense.
- Extended Depth of Focus or Multifocal Lens – This is the latest technology lens that can allow for a more full range of vision. This lens dramatically decreases your need for glasses by improving your distance and near vision without glasses. Like the toric IOL, this lens is not covered under your insurance and will result in an out-of-pocket expense. Not all patients are a good candidate for this lens, so please ask your physician if you’re interested.
Astigmatism means that the front surface of your eye is not perfectly round, which may blur your vision without glasses after cataract surgery. If you have astigmatism it can be corrected with glasses, or it may be correctable surgically to decrease your need for glasses. Surgical treatments for astigmatism include:
- Limbal Relaxing Incisions (LRI) – treats small to moderate amounts of astigmatism
- Toric Intraocular Lenses – treats moderate to large amounts of astigmatism
The Day of Cataract Surgery
Within the few days prior to surgery, the surgery center will call you with an arrival time and go over instructions prior to surgery. While the surgery itself is quite short, the day of your surgery please plan on being at the surgery center for around 3 hours. This will allow time for you to check in, receive your dilating pre-operative eye drops, have our nursing staff review your medical history, and prepare you for surgery. You will receive local anesthesia to completely numb your eye prior to surgery. You will also be given medication through an IV to calm and relax you, but you will not be put completely under general anesthesia as this is not required for cataract surgery. While you will be awake during the surgery you will be relaxed and comfortable.
Modern cataract surgery is a very safe procedure in which your cloudy natural lens (aka cataract) is removed and a clear, man-made, artificial lens is used to replace it. During the procedure you will likely hear music in the background and may see various colors and lights as the surgery proceeds. You will hear some beeping and buzzing sounds from the instruments, and you will see a bright light, but you should not feel any discomfort.
You won’t be able to drive yourself on the day of surgery. The medications that you are given to calm and relax you at the time of your surgery decrease your reaction time and make it unsafe to drive. Most people have a family member or friend drive them to and from the surgery center. However, if you do not have a ride we may be able to set up a free van service to help with your transportation on the day of your surgery. Please ask your physician or the surgery schedulers for more information.
Follow-Up Visits After Surgery
After your surgery it is very important to keep your schedule follow-up visits. There will be 2 to 3 follow-up examinations after each surgery. At these visits your doctor will be checking to make sure your eye is healing well and your vision is improving appropriately. We will discuss how to use your eye drops and answer any questions you may have.
On the day of your cataract surgery your vision may already be improved, but it may not quite be perfect yet because your eye will still be dilated and will be just starting the healing process. The vision will continue to improve every single day following the surgery.
You will typically be prescribed 2 or 3 eye drops prior to your surgery. It is VERY important that you use these medications as prescribed. Proper use of these medications will help your eye heal and decrease the risk of infection and other complications. These eye drops will be called into your pharmacy, and you should pick them up prior to your procedure so that you can start using them after your surgery. Our nursing staff will direct you on how and when to start using them after your surgery is completed. You will also go home with written instructions.
Modern cataract surgery is much less invasive than it used to be. As a result, there are far fewer restrictions after cataract surgery. We do ask that you take care with the following things:
- Wash your hands prior to using your eye drops
- Wear the clear eye shield any time you nap or sleep for the first week after surgery
- Do not lift anything so heavy you have to strain or squeeze your eyes tightly to pick it up. You may resume vigorous exercise after 2 weeks.
- Stay out of dirty, smoky, or dusty environments as your eye is healing
- Do not rub or apply pressure to your eyes following surgery
- Do not bend or stoop so that your eye is below your heart or waist
Will I Need to Take Time off from Work?
The answer to this frequently asked question is highly dependent on the type of work that you do. Most patients are off of work the day of surgery and for their follow-up visit the day after surgery. Many patients return to work the second day after surgery. However, if your work requires frequent heavy lifting or dirty/dusty environments please ask your physician for further recommendations.
Cataract Surgery Summary
Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries done in the United States. It is safe and effective. The cataract surgeons at Surevision Eye Centers are skilled in the latest surgical techniques and will be happy to assist you with any additional questions.
At SureVision Eye Centers,
Your Eyesight is Our Focus
The surgeons at SureVision Eye Centers are among the most experienced and well-trained in the world. Together they have performed thousands of surgical and laser vision correction procedures. All of our surgeons are certified or eligible for certification by the American Board of Ophthalmology.