Top 12 Cataract Surgery FAQs: Your Comprehensive Guide

Cataract surgery is a common and highly successful procedure that can significantly improve vision for individuals with cataracts. If you’re considering cataract surgery or have been recommended for the procedure, you likely have several questions. To address your concerns and provide clarity, we have compiled the top frequently asked questions (FAQs) about cataract surgery. Read on to find answers to these common queries and gain a better understanding of this transformative procedure.

  1. What is a cataract? A cataract is a condition characterized by the clouding of the natural lens of the eye, leading to blurry vision, decreased color perception, and difficulty with night vision. Cataracts typically develop with age but can also be caused by factors such as genetics, eye trauma, or certain medical conditions.
  2. When is cataract surgery necessary? Cataract surgery becomes necessary when the cataracts start significantly impacting daily activities, such as driving, reading, or performing routine tasks. Your ophthalmologist will assess the severity of your cataracts and recommend surgery when it affects your quality of life or hampers your vision.
  3. What happens during cataract surgery? During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. The surgeon uses specialized techniques, such as phacoemulsification or laser-assisted methods, to remove the cataract and insert the IOL.
  4. Is cataract surgery painful? Cataract surgery is generally painless. The eye is numbed with local anesthesia, and you may receive sedation to help you relax during the procedure. Most patients report feeling little to no discomfort, although you may experience mild pressure or a sensation of light.
  5. How long does cataract surgery take? Cataract surgery is a relatively quick procedure, typically lasting 15 to 30 minutes. However, you should expect to spend a few hours at the surgical center or hospital for pre-operative preparations and post-operative recovery.
  6. What is the recovery like after cataract surgery? Recovery after cataract surgery is usually swift. You may experience mild discomfort, itchiness, or redness in the operated eye initially, but these symptoms typically subside within a few days. It’s important to follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding eye drops, protective eyewear, and avoiding strenuous activities during the recovery period.
  7. When will my vision improve after cataract surgery? Many individuals notice improved vision within a few days after cataract surgery. However, it may take a few weeks for your vision to stabilize and fully adjust to the new intraocular lens. Your ophthalmologist will monitor your progress during post-operative visits.
  8. Can both eyes be treated during the same surgery? Typically, cataract surgery is performed on one eye at a time, with a gap of a few weeks to months between surgeries. This allows your surgeon to assess the outcome of the first surgery before proceeding with the second eye.
  9. Are there any risks or complications associated with cataract surgery? Cataract surgery is generally safe, with a low risk of complications. However, like any surgical procedure, there are potential risks, such as infection, bleeding, retinal detachment, or posterior capsule opacification. Your surgeon will discuss these risks with you before the procedure.
  10. Will I still need glasses after cataract surgery? The need for glasses after cataract surgery depends on several factors, including the type of intraocular lens implanted, your visual requirements, and any pre-existing eye conditions. Premium intraocular lenses, such as multifocal or toric lenses, can reduce the dependence on glasses for some activities, but you may still require glasses for specific tasks or near vision.
  11. Does insurance cover cataract surgery? The cost of cataract surgery is typically covered by insurance, including Medicare, as it is considered a medically necessary procedure. However, the extent of coverage may vary depending on your insurance plan. It’s important to verify your coverage and discuss any out-of-pocket expenses with your insurance provider and surgeon.
  12. What are the different types of intraocular lenses available? Several types of intraocular lenses are available for cataract surgery. Monofocal lenses provide clear vision at a single distance, typically chosen for distance vision. Multifocal and accommodating lenses offer a broader range of vision, reducing the need for glasses. Toric lenses correct astigmatism. Your surgeon can help you choose the most suitable lens based on your visual needs and lifestyle.

Cataract surgery is a safe and effective procedure that can restore clear vision for individuals with cataracts. By addressing these frequently asked questions, we hope to have provided you with valuable information and eased any concerns you may have had. If you are considering cataract surgery, consult with an experienced ophthalmologist who can assess your specific situation and guide you through the process. Remember, open communication with your surgeon is key to ensuring a successful and satisfying cataract surgery experience.

Content written by Annie Tye, Ph.D | Reviewed by Joseph Christenbury, M.D. | Last updated 6/11/2023