Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most common eye surgeries performed in the United States. Eye Clinic of Austin’s own ophthalmologist, Thomas Henderson MD, has performed over 10,000 cataract surgeries in his career. When it comes to questions about cataract surgery, he’s heard it all, but we’ve put together some of the most common questions asked by patients about cataract surgery.
When will I need to have cataract surgery?
The answer to this question is different for each patient. Often times when a cataract is first discovered, vision is not impacted, so the need for surgery is not immediate. An ophthalmologist will recommend a time for you to return for your next exam in order to monitor the cataract’s progression. Once vision is impacted, the ophthalmologist will determine a time for surgery.
What’s the difference between traditional cataract surgery and laser cataract surgery?
In traditional cataract surgery the eye surgeon uses a surgical blade to make tiny incisions as opposed to the computer-controlled laser that is used in laser cataract surgery. Laser cataract surgery provides more precision and accuracy, though traditional cataract surgery is still one of the safest surgical procedures. Laser cataract surgery is a premium surgery, meaning there will most likely be an out-of-pocket cost to the patient while traditional cataract surgery is typically covered by insurance providers and Medicaid.
How long is the surgery and am I under anesthesia?
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure and typically takes 10-15 minutes to complete. We use a topical anesthetic in the form of eye drops and a sedative for relaxation because you are awake during the procedure. We may use a general anesthetic if a patient is allergic to certain local anesthetics or has some other kind of medical condition, which requires the use of a general anesthetic.
When can I return to work or my normal activities?
Patients typically have little or no discomfort after surgery and can usually see well soon after the procedure. Most patients return to work within two days after cataract surgery, though you should not exercise, lift anything over 10 lbs., or bend over from the waist for at least one week. We ask that you not drive or bathe for 24 hours after the surgery, and ask you to wear an eye shield while sleeping for one week to prevent rubbing your eyes during sleep. No eye make up should be worn for at least one week as well.