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Cataract Surgery FAQs

Are both eyes done at the same time?

No, each eye is operated on separately, usually about 1-4 weeks apart.

Am I asleep during the procedure?

No, you are awake the entire time. You will be given some medication to relax you during the surgery. In some cases, eye drops are the only anesthesia needed.

Will my glasses need to be changed?

Yes, your prescription will change following cataract surgery. In most cases, you will still require at least a reading prescription to do near work. If you still require a distance prescription after surgery, it will be a few weeks until the eye is stable enough to obtain this prescription. Your optometrist will provide this prescription for you. Wearing your old glasses in-between the first and second eye will not hurt either eye, however, some patients find it more comfortable to go without their glasses even before the second surgery is completed. If you plan on driving within a few days of surgery, ask your doctor.

Is an intraocular lens always used?

With the exception of children with cataracts, an intraocular lens is used to replace the lens that was clouded with the cataract. The implant is similar to a very small contact lens. It doesn’t feel any different in your eye than the lens that is being removed. With few exceptions, the implant almost never needs to be replaced.

How long does it take to recover and see again?

Eye surgery is like surgery on any other body part, there will be a period of recovery. Fortunately for cataract surgery, this time is minimal. Your vision will be blurry right after surgery. No two patients are the same, but most patients notice an improvement in their vision within the first few days of surgery. The eye typically takes a month to heal completely, but the majority of healing takes place within the first week. In most cases, the eye will be blurry for reading and near work. You will probably need help to see up-close and it is fine to use your old glasses for reading until the eye is stable enough for a custom glasses prescription (often this takes 3-4 weeks). The second eye may seem blurrier or even better than the first eye right after surgery. This is normal and the distance vision will usually improve with time.

Will it hurt?

Most patients feel mild to moderate irritation for the first few days after surgery, “like an eyelash or a grain of sand” in the eye. This feeling should get better with each passing day. Artificial tears may be used as often as necessary to reduce irritation. Any preoperative glaucoma and dry eye medication should be restarted the day following surgery. It is important to remember that no two eyes are exactly the same, even if they are both your eyes! One eye may be more blurred, redder, and feel scratchier than the other after surgery. This is normal, as one eye may take a bit longer to heal than the other.