“What can I expect after cataract surgery?” This is a common question from patients who are thinking about getting a cataract procedure at Fichte Endl & Elmer Eyecare. We want our patients to be informed. So, we’ve consolidated everything you need to know about what happens during and after the procedure plus how to care for yourself post-operation.
What happens during the cataract lens replacement surgery?
Prior to scheduling your cataract surgery, your surgeon and ophthalmologist will perform a variety of exams to determine the level of your cataracts. Cataract surgery is a quick, precise procedure. You will be awake, but your eye will be numbed with eye drops so you will not feel anything during the surgery. Next, the surgeon will create small incisions near the cornea using a blade or laser. Lasers are more accurate than free-hand incisions, giving the surgeon greater precision compared to traditional procedures.
Once the incision has been made, an intraocular (IOL) lens is inserted where the cataract used to be. An IOL lens is a synthetic lens that replaces the natural lens of the eye. IOLs can be monofocal, providing good vision for one distance, or premium, which can correct astigmatism and near- and far-sightedness.
If you need cataract surgery in both eyes, your surgeon will correct one eye at a time. After the first procedure, you will wait one to two weeks before having the surgery on the other eye.
What happens after the surgery?
After waiting 15 to 30 minutes in the outpatient recovery area, you will be able to go home. You will be required to have someone drive you on the day of surgery because the law mandates that you cannot drive an automobile for 24 hours after anesthesia that could cause visual impairment. You will probably need a person to drive you to your follow-up appointment the next morning. We will provide sunglasses to wear home and a clear, protective shield to wear while sleeping. You will also be prescribed eye drops to use for a few weeks following the procedure.
It is common for patients to have blurry or distorted vision after initially removing the eye shield. It can take time to adjust to the new IOL lens. Although it’s uncommon, some experience bloodshot eyes due to temporary blood vessel damage. This should clear up within a few days.
Strenuous activity, heaving lifting, swimming, or exposure to dust or grime should be avoided for at least two weeks. It is also important to refrain from rubbing your eye after the surgery. Don’t wear eye make-up for the first week after the procedure. You will be able to work on a computer, watch television, and bathe after surgery.
Will I need glasses after cataract surgery?
Laser cataract surgery with multifocal IOLs or accommodating IOLs improve vision to the point where patients won’t need glasses for most of the day. However, patients often require low-prescription glasses for reading and nighttime driving. The need for glasses is typically determined one to four weeks after the procedure.
A series of post-operative exams are included in the cost of your surgery. The first exam will be the day after your procedure. The remaining follow-up exams will be one week, one month, and three months post-surgery.
The day after your surgery, you will meet with your surgeon to make sure your healing process is beginning correctly. The subsequent exams will be with your surgeon, optometrist, or ophthalmologist.
It takes approximately four weeks for patients to fully heal and see at their sharpest vision after cataract surgery, but each person heals in their own time. Don’t feel discouraged if you can’t read every letter on the eye chart in your initial post-operative exams. It is normal to see a slow progression to clearer vision.
For more information, come to one of our Cataract Surgery Lunch and Learns available every other month at our Amherst office. We also host quarterly Cataract Surgery Open House events. These sessions will allow you to meet the surgeons and ask any questions you may have. You can also contact our office at (800) 309-2020 to schedule an appointment.