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Getting Through Your Cataract Surgery Successfully

Your ophthalmologist has recommended cataract surgery to remove the cloudy lenses affecting your vision. Without the surgery, your sight will become worse. While the procedure is a common one, done as an outpatient in your doctor's office, the thought of having surgery can make you anxious. Here is what you can expect from this surgery and the days following it. 

Take a "Buddy" With You

You'll find it helpful to have a friend or family member take you to your appointment and bring you back home after the procedure. This is not only to give you friendly support, but some of the medications the doctor uses in your eye can make it difficult for you to drive for several hours after the procedure. You'll likely want to rest once you get home, so having the additional help will be comforting, too.

In the Doctor's Office

You'll be seated in a comfortable chair during the procedure. Your eye doctor sits off to one side with an assistant on the other side. The doctor will use a microscope to look into your eye as they do the surgery. They will be using a laser or ultrasonic probe to remove the cataract, both of which may produce a slight humming noise as they are used.

The doctor will first put drops in your eye to make it numb so you'll feel no pain during the surgery. A second set of eye drops cause the pupil to dilate, giving your doctor a better view into your eye. The dilated pupil makes you sensitive to light which is what makes driving difficult and unsafe for awhile.

Once the anesthetic becomes effective, your doctor makes a small incision in your eye and removes the cloudy lens in pieces. If the cataract is advanced, the lens becomes harder to break up into pieces. In this case, a larger incision is made and the lens is removed in one piece. In place of the natural lens, an artificial lens is inserted. This lens is made of plastic and will not be affected by cataracts in the future. The lens will also make a slight correction to your vision so you may not need as strong a prescription for your glasses or contacts.

If the larger incision is made in your eye, your doctor will close it with a stitch. Otherwise, no stitches are required for the smaller incision to heal.

After You Get Home

Your doctor will give you a prescription for an anti-inflammatory pain medication to reduce any aching you may experience in your eye. They may also give you a patch to wear over your eye for a couple of days should it become itchy as it heals. The patch prevents you from scratching your eye.

Within a couple of days, you'll notice the improvement in your vision. As your eye heals, your vision will become clearer. If you have a cataract in the other eye, in a couple of weeks, you'll be able to have surgery to improve that eye, as well. By then, you'll realize how easy this procedure is to undergo and how much improvement you'll get by having the cataracts removed.