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FAQ Cataract

Is surgery the only option to treat a cataract?

Just because you have a cataract does not mean that you have to have it removed. Cataract surgery only becomes necessary if you are not happy with your vision and want to see better. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your vision.

Does cataract surgery hurt?

Thanks to numbing drops and medications to help you relax, this procedure involves minimal discomfort.

Will I be asleep during cataract surgery?

Since this procedure does not take very long, it is unnecessary to put you completely asleep with general anesthesia. Instead, your surgeon will use a local/topical anesthetic to numb your eye and you will remain awake during the surgery.

I am 50 yrs old, have been wearing eyeglasses since I was 7 yrs. old for myopia. I now also have bifocals. I've also been told I have severe astigmatism and also congenital cataracts. Could I possibly be a candidate for Lasik surgery?

You may be a candidate. You need to see a Lasik surgeon for a consultation.

Is it possible to have a cataract return to the same eye that 2 years ago had cataract and artificial lens replacement surgery?

This eye has very rapidly (within the last 6 months) become cloudy again. Thank You 
Sometimes, the membrane behind the artificial lens can become cloudy, causing blurry vision. This can be easily treated with a laser.

After having Glaucoma & cataract surgery I am experiencing foggy condition. What is this called and what can I do about it?  

It often takes longer for visual recovery after combined cataract and glaucoma procedures often because the decrease pressure in the eye can cause both corneal folds and retinal edema in some cases.

I had Lasek surgery less than a year ago. I would like to know if Lasek surgery can cause cataracts? 

LASEK or PRK itself is not a known cause of cataracts as the laser does not penetrate through the cornea.

When will my vision be normal again?

You can return quickly to many everyday activities, but your vision may be blurry. The healing eye needs time to adjust so that it can focus properly with the other eye, especially if the other eye has a cataract. Ask your doctor when you can resume driving.
If you received an IOL, you may notice that colors are very bright. The IOL is clear, unlike your natural lens that may have had a yellowish/brownish tint. Within a few months after receiving an IOL, you will become used to improved color vision. Also, when your eye heals, you may need new glasses or contact lenses.

What can I do if I already have lost some vision from cataract?

If you have lost some sight from cataract or cataract surgery, ask your eye care professional about low vision services and devices that may help you make the most of your remaining vision. Ask for a referral to a specialist in low vision. Many community organizations and agencies offer information about low vision counseling, training, and other special services for people with visual impairments. A nearby school of medicine or optometry may provide low vision services.

Must someone accompany me on the day of surgery?

It's not absolutely necessary, but advisable.

How long does the testing for my surgery take?

The time required for pre-surgical testing may vary greatly, but most patients should plan to be at the hospital according to the hospital appointments.

I take a blood thinner and several other prescription medications. Could I continue this before surgery?

Yes. Take all prescription medications as you normally would before surgery.

I am a contact lens wearer. May I wear my contacts until the day of surgery?

No. Your contact lenses may change some of the measurements we take before the surgery. Please remove soft contact lenses at least one week prior to surgery, and hard lenses two weeks prior to surgery.

May I eat before surgery?

Yes. A good meal is recommended before arriving and bring a snack, or packed lunch.

May I wear makeup?

Please do not wear any makeup on the day of surgery.

What is my implant made of?

The implants can be made of either Silicone or PMMApoly methyl meta acrylalte which is a type of plastic. Each lens has specific indications and the doctor determines which lens is best suited for you based on a number of factors.

How long will my implants last?

The intraocular lens is placed permanently in your eye and will not "wear out".

Can my eye reject the lens implant?

No, since the intraocular lens is not made of human tissue, your body cannot reject it. Also it has been proven that the body accepts this material.

Was laser used to remove my cataract?

Your cataract was removed by ultrasound, not laser. In a process called phacoemulsification, sound waves gently break up the cataract and it is removed from the eye. However, lasers are presently being developed to remove cataracts.

I have cataracts in both eyes. Will the doctor treat both at the same time?

Typically, doctors will perform surgery in the second eye two or three weeks after the first eye. All patients are different, so talk to your doctor about what is right for you.

How long will I be in the hospital?

Patients commonly spend only a few hours at the hospital or surgery center, and are allowed to go home the very same day.

How long before I can see after surgery?

Every patient and every eye is different, but patients commonly see well enough to drive the day after surgery. Ask your doctor how quickly he or she expects you to recover.

How long until I can return to normal activities?

Most patients can resume normal basic activities like reading and watching TV by the next day, and return to work within two to seven days. Doctors typically recommend against any strenuous activity for two or more weeks. However, results vary for different patients, so you should ask your doctor what is best for you.

Will I need glasses after cataract surgery?

It depends on what type of intraocular lens you elect to have implanted. Most patients do not need glasses or contacts for distance tasks following cataract surgery with a traditional monofocal IOL, but still rely on reading glasses for near tasks. However, in the clinical trials, four out of five AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL patients reported never wearing glasses for distance, intermediate or near tasks after their surgery.
Monofocal IOL: An intraocular lens that provides patients with only one focal point. Most commonly, these lenses correct only for distance vision.

Can my cataract come back?

No, once a cataract has been removed it cannot return. However, over time, patients may complain that their vision has once again become cloudy. This sometimes-common condition, which may occur with any type of IOL, is known as a secondary cataract or "PCO." Secondary cataracts can be easily treated by a simple laser procedure performed in the office.

Can the lens be replaced if it doesn't work?

Although this would be unlikely, the IOL can be replaced with a different one if needed. Ask your surgeon how they would handle this situation.

My wife, 30 years of age, has recently been diagnosed with cataract. She is not diabetic and never used steroids. She has been healthy all her life. My question is how effective is Intra ocular lens surgery in restoring normal vision. Also how long do these lenses last?

Small incision cataract surgery is very successful at restoring vision. The lens implant that is used is permanent and will never degrade. The healing is very rapid and your wife should expect excellent vision afterwards.

Will I feel anything during surgery?

Most patients feel only gentle pressure

What do I see during surgery?

Most patients only see the bright lights of the microscope.

Would a cough prevent me from having surgery?

It is very important that you don't cough unexpectedly during surgery.

May I have medication for my nerves?

It's not required, but some patients do request medication to help them relax. If you do elect to take medication for your nerves, have someone accompany you if possible.

Will I need to have blood drawn before the surgery?

Unless there is a specific indication the blood will not be drawn.

How soon may I leave after surgery?

Most patients may leave within a few hours after the surgery.

I know I need surgery on both eyes. When may I have my second eye done?

If surgery is recommended on both eyes, you may have them one day apart.

What happens before I'm discharged?

After the surgery, you will be brought into the recovery room where your vital signs such as your pulse and blood pressure will be assessed. Your eye pressure should be checked and your postoperative instructions and medications will be explained to a friend or family member. Afterwards, an attending eye surgeon will examine your eye or arrangements will be made to check you the following day.

Do I need a physical examination before surgery?

Your general health is assessed prior to surgery by a staff physician and if the hospital rules permit they can grant medical clearance for your surgery.

What will I be able to see right after the operation?

Most patients' vision is quite blurred after the surgery from the dilating drops and the bright microscope lights

May I drive myself home?

It is not recommended, although some patients who see well out of their other eye and have not had any medication may drive.

Can I wear my old glasses after surgery?

Wearing your old glasses will not harm your eyes, but since the prescription won't be optimal for your surgery eye, you will probably see best without them. Most patients find it easiest to only wear glasses for reading.

I see great at a distance, but why can't I read without glasses?

Your implant is a single-focus lens. If your lens was chosen for distance vision, you will need reading glasses for close range work. Some patients elect to have one eye focused for close vision so they can read without glasses. However, this may compromise distance vision. Patients who require precise distance vision do best with both eyes focused for distance and reading glasses for near.

When may I wear make-up again?

You may wear make-up on your face such as lipstick and powder immediately after surgery, but eye make-up should be avoided for two weeks.

Why does it feel like there is something in my eye after my surgery?

You've had a microscopic incision on the surface of your eye. When you blink, you may feel a slightly scratchy sensation until the incision heals. Scratchiness is also a symptom of dry eyes. After surgery, our patients find that using artificial tears helps to alleviate the symptoms.

The eye drops, given to me to use after surgery, sting my eye. Is this normal?

It is common for some eye drops to burn or sting upon installation. You should continue to use your eye drops as prescribed. However, if your discomfort seems to be worsening, or you experience a decrease in vision, call your doctor. Burning may also be a symptom of dry eyes. Make sure you're using your "artificial tears" drops frequently. Some patients find using artificial tears 5 minutes before their medicated drops decreases their irritation.

What exactly is a cataract?

A cataract is a cloudiness of the eye's natural lens, which lies between the front and back areas of the eye.

Are cataracts found only in older people?

About half of the population has a cataract by age 65, and nearly everyone over 75 has at least one. But in rare cases, infants can have congenital cataracts. These are usually related to the mother having German measles, chickenpox, or another infectious disease during pregnancy, but sometimes they are inherited.

My doctor says I have a cataract, but he wants to wait a while before removing it. Why?

A cataract usually starts very small and practically unnoticeable but grows gradually larger and cloudier. Your doctor is probably waiting until the cataract interferes significantly with your vision and your lifestyle. You need to continue to visit your eye doctor regularly so the cataract's progress is monitored. Some cataracts never really reach the stage where they should be removed. If your cataract is interfering with your vision to the point where it is unsafe to drive, or doing everyday tasks is difficult, then it's time to discuss surgery with your doctor.

Is cataract surgery serious?

All surgery involves some risk, so yes, it is serious. However, cataract surgery is the most commonly performed type of surgery. Many cataract surgeons have several thousand procedures under their belt. Choosing a surgeon with this much experience will reduce the risk of something going wrong.

How is a cataract removed?

A small incision is made into the eye. The surgeon will either remove the lens as is, or use ultrasound, a laser or surgical solution to break it up, and then remove it. The back membrane of the lens (called the posterior capsule) is left in place. Usually, a replacement lens (called an intraocular lens, or IOL) is inserted.
Occasionally, a doctor will perform intracapsular extraction; this is when both the lens and the membrane are removed, to ensure that the membrane itself won't eventually grow cloudy and interfere with vision. When the membrane becomes cloudy, or if any bits of remaining natural lens become cloudy, this is called a secondary cataract. The problem with intracapsular extraction is that the membrane is no longer there to receive a replacement lens. Read more about the cataract surgery in the site.

My father had cataract surgery a few years ago, and he had to wear thick glasses afterward. Is this still necessary?

Nowadays, cataract patients who have intraocular lenses (IOLs) implanted during surgery may need reading glasses for close vision, but that's about it. In fact, with the newer multifocal IOLs, even reading glasses are unnecessary. People who don't receive IOLs wear contact lenses for distance vision, with reading glasses for close up. Or they may wear multifocal contact lenses for all distances. Rarely does anyone have to wear thick eyeglasses now.

What are possible side effects of cataract surgery?

As with any surgery, pain, infection, swelling, and bleeding are possible, but very few patients experience serious problems. Your surgeon may prescribe medications for these effects.
Retinal detachment also occurs in a few people. Be on the lookout for excessive pain, vision loss, or nausea, and report these symptoms to your eye surgeon immediately