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What to Expect Before, During, and After Cataract Surgery by Denise Johnson, M.D.

March 3, 2020

Dr. Johnson is an ophthalmologist and cataract specialist at the Marietta Eye Clinic.

When cataracts progress enough that they impede on your quality of life, you should start to consider cataract surgery. Though surgical procedures can make some people nervous, cataract surgery is one of the safest and most commonly performed procedures in the United States. In addition to removing cataract, cataract surgery offers refractive benefits that can mean better eyesight than you had even before the development of cataracts. Because of this, many people choose to have cataract surgery earlier than in years past. However, when to have cataract surgery, what kinds of IOLs to have implanted, and what type of surgery to have will be unique to every individual based on their eyes, their health, and their vision preferences.

Before Cataract Surgery

Before your surgery, you will undergo a cataract evaluation. Because your ophthalmologist will need a lot of information about your eyes to prepare for the surgery, you should expect this evaluation to last for a couple of hours.

At the Marietta Eye Clinic, the cataract evaluation begins with an ophthalmic technician, who will ask about your current medications, medical history, and how your cataract symptoms are impacting your day-to-day life. You will then undergo a variety of diagnostic tests to determine the shape of your eye. This will allow us to find you the best type of lens and lens power for your lens replacement.

Next, you will meet with the ophthalmologist who will perform your surgery. Your surgeon will discuss your symptoms and vision concerns with you. They will also conduct a dilated exam to rule out the possibility of other eye diseases that could be impacting your vision.

Finally, a surgery coordinator will schedule your surgery date, review your insurance coverage, and coordinate any other medical appointments your may require before surgery, such as with a cardiologist, a pulmonologist, or a primary care doctor.

The Day of Your Cataract Surgery

Someone will have to bring you to the surgery center and they will have to remain in the surgery center for the duration of your surgery.  The average time in the surgery center is 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Cataract surgery typically takes under 10 minutes. Most patients report very little discomfort. Before the surgery, anesthetic eye drops will be administered. Two small incisions are made in the cornea . A small ultrasound handpiece is inserted through the primary incision and used to break up the cataract. The cataract pieces are then suctioned out. The replacement intraocular lens you and your eye surgeon have decided on will be inserted through the incision. You will never be able to feel this lens. In most cases, stitches are not required and the incisions will self-seal. Cataract surgery at the Marietta Eye Clinic is performed on an outpatient basis, so you will be able to go home afterward.

After Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery at the Marietta Eye Clinic is performed on one eye at a time. It usually takes 4 weeks for the eye to completely heal. Most patients will need glasses for some activities after surgery, but the level of dependency on glasses should be greatly reduced. Depending on the type of intraocular lenses that are implanted, you may require glasses for fine print or in dim lighting.

Ask Your Cataract Surgeon if You Have Questions about Your Cataracts

If you are experiencing symptoms of cataracts and you feel they are holding you back, it might be time to schedule a consultation with your ophthalmologist. Your surgical team will guide you every step of the way to help you make the best decision for your health and your vision goals.

More About Cataract Specialist Denise Johnson, M.D.

Dr. Johnson is an ophthalmologist at the Marietta Eye Clinic who offers comprehensive care and specializes in cataracts, dry eye, and cosmetic treatments. She serves the Acworth and Towne Lake locations. She is board-certified by both the American Board of Ophthalmology and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. She received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her medical degree from the Temple University School of Medicine. She is professionally associated with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataracts and Refractive Surgeons, the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine. Read her full bio here.

References and Additional Resources

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. It describes itself as a “global community of 32,000 medical doctors who protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public.” Its website is a great resource to learn more about how to care for your eyes.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) describes itself as the leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation’s health, representing more than 44,000 doctors of optometry (O.D.), optometric professionals, and optometry students.

What Are Cataracts?

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-cataracts

Cataract Surgery

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-cataract-surgery

Cataract Diagnosis and Treatment

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/cataracts-treatment

IOL Implants: Lens Replacement After Cataracts

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/cataracts-iol-implants

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