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Cataracts: Questions About Surgery

Overview

When should I consider having surgery?

  • You may want to consider cataract surgery if your vision is blurry or causing other problems that interfere with things you want or need to do each day. Examples include reading and driving.

Where should I go for surgery?

  • The most important factor to consider is the skill and experience of your eye surgeon. If you need a recommendation for a surgeon, talk with your family doctor or optometrist.
  • Try to choose a convenient location. Then you can easily get follow-up eye exams and be seen if you have problems.

Which procedure will be done and why?

  • Phacoemulsification (small incision surgery) is the most commonly performed type of cataract surgery. The surgeon uses ultrasound to break up the cloudy lens. Other types of surgery are usually reserved for special situations.
  • Ask your surgeon how experienced they are with the procedure. Ask if the surgeon will use a laser during part of the surgery. Also find out how many procedures the surgeon has done and what the outcomes were.

What type of anesthesia is planned?

Cataract surgery in otherwise healthy people can usually be done on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia or topical anesthetic eyedrops. (General anesthesia is only needed for a few people.)

What type of lens replacement is best?

  • Lenses that are placed inside the eye during surgery (intraocular lenses, or IOLs) are used in many cataract surgeries for adults and children. Depending on the type of IOL that is used, adults may not need glasses. But most children who have an IOL will need glasses. The doctor may wait until a child is older than 6 months before using an IOL.
  • Ask your doctor about the different types of lenses and what would be best for you. Some types may cost more than others.
  • If an IOL can't be placed, contact lenses or thick glasses may be needed. But this is very rare.

What should I do if I have cataracts in both eyes?

  • For adults, the reason to have cataract surgery on the second eye is the same as for the first eye. The reason is that vision loss caused by the cataract is interfering with your daily activities and adversely affecting the quality of your life.
  • Cataract surgery is usually not done on both eyes at the same time in older adults. Discuss with your doctor how long you need to wait after the first surgery before you can have cataract surgery on your other eye.
  • Most people will have the second cataract surgery 2 to 4 weeks after the first surgery.

Credits

Current as of: April 29, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine

 

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