What to Expect Before, During, and After Cataract Surgery by Amy Cherof, M.D.

June 22, 2020

Dr. Amy Cherof is a comprehensive ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon at the Marietta Eye Clinic.

When cataracts begin to interfere with your daily activities, you may want to consider cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most commonly performed surgeries in the United States. During cataract surgery, the cataract — the clouded natural lens — is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL). Cataract surgery often results in better vision than before the development of cataracts. However, when to have cataract surgery, what kind of IOL to have implanted, and what type of surgery to have will be unique to every individual based on their eyes, their health, and their visual preferences and goals. Here is what to expect before, during, and after cataract surgery to help you make those decisions.

Before Cataract Surgery

Before surgery, you will have a cataract evaluation. A cataract evaluation appointment typically takes about 2 hours. This is because your ophthalmologist needs many measurements of your eyes and a thorough exam to help you determine the best options for your cataract surgery and prepare for the surgery.

Cataract evaluations at the Marietta Eye Clinic begin with an ophthalmic technician. He or she will gather information about your current medications, your medical history, and how your cataract symptoms are impacting your daily life. You will then undergo a variety of diagnostic tests to determine the size and shape of your eye. This will allow your ophthalmologist to determine the correct type and strength of artificial lens for the optimal surgical outcome.

Next, you meet with the ophthalmologist, your surgeon. He or she will discuss your symptoms and visual concerns and conducts a complete exam with dilation to evaluate for other ocular diseases that could be impacting your vision.

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

During Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a fairly quick procedure. The procedure itself typically lasts 20 minutes or less, although you should expect to spend about 3 hours at the surgery center. Most patients report little to no discomfort during surgery. Before the procedure, anesthetic eye drops are administered, and small incisions are made in the cornea. A small ultrasound device is inserted into one of the incisions and used to break up the cataract. The cataract pieces are then removed using fluid and vacuum suction with that same ultrasound device. The replacement intraocular lens you and your eye surgeon have decided upon is then inserted through the incision. You will not 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 can go home afterward. You will need to arrange for someone to stay at the surgery center the entire time and drive you home after the procedure.

After Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is performed on one eye at a time at the Marietta Eye Clinic. The eye usually takes about 4 weeks to completely heal, and you will use prescription eye drops during that time. Most patients will need glasses for some activities after surgery, but the level of dependency on glasses should be greatly reduced and is largely dependent upon the type of IOL you choose to have implanted.

Talk to Your Ophthalmologist 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. If surgery is necessary, your surgical team will guide you through the process to help you make the best decision for your health and your vision goals.

More About Cataract Specialist Amy Cherof, M.D.

Dr. Cherof is an ophthalmologist with the Marietta Eye Clinic who specializes in cataracts in addition to offering comprehensive care. Dr. Cherof graduated summa cum laude with highest honors with her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia. She received her medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. She is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology. 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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