Over half of all Americans over 80 either have cataracts or had cataract surgery in the past. Cataracts can lead to vision loss over time if they aren’t treated.
Luckily, cataract surgery is a safe procedure that removes cataracts and corrects the vision problems they can cause. If you’re planning to have cataract surgery soon, you’re likely feeling anxious about how to prepare for the cataract surgery and wondering what to expect.
The good news is learning how to prepare for surgery will make you feel much more comfortable overall. In this cataract surgery guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about preparing for cataract surgery.
What Is Cataract Surgery?
Your first step in preparing for cataract surgery is learning more about the procedure with a bit of cataract surgery 101.
The lens of your eye is normally clear and helps you focus on light. A cataract occurs when an area of the lens of your eye becomes cloudy. This cloudiness typically develops due to injury or aging and results from fibers and proteins in the lens breaking down.
Cataract surgery is a procedure that treats cataracts by removing the lens of your eye. Once this lens is removed, it’s replaced with an artificial lens.
Why Is Cataract Surgery Done?
Over time, cataracts cause your vision to become blurry, making it difficult for you to carry out your daily activities. Your eye doctor will usually recommend cataract surgery if your cataracts are causing trouble with things like:
- Performing your job
- Watching TV
- Seeing to take your medications
- Climbing stairs
- Bright lights make it difficult to see
Other times, eye doctors may recommend cataract surgery even if they aren’t causing significant vision problems. For example, if you have a condition like diabetic retinopathy, your eye doctor will need to see the back of your eye to monitor your condition.
If you have cataracts in both eyes, you should have surgery on your eyes at separate times, typically at least a month apart.
What to Expect Before Cataract Surgery
Your eye doctor will perform a special test to measure the shape and size of your eye. This test determines the best type of lens implant for your eye.
Most cataract surgeries involve intraocular lens implants (IOLs). IOLs are flexible lenses that replace the natural lenses of your eye that are affected by cataracts. You won’t be able to feel or see the lens, which becomes a permanent part of your eye.
Different types of IOLs are available, and your eye doctor will help you determine the best lens type for your lifestyle.
For example, at Texan Eye Care, you may be able to get Full Focus® intraocular lens implants that allow you to see clearly at all distances without glasses. This lens uses the natural focusing ability of your eye and was FDA approved in 2003.
Review Your Medications
Next, you’ll need to let your eye doctor know if you take any medications or supplements daily. You may need to stop taking certain medications like blood thinners right before surgery since they can increase your risk of bleeding.
Your eye doctor may also prescribe antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory eye drops before surgery to decrease the risk of infection and swelling after the procedure.
What to Wear
It’s best to dress comfortably, wearing loose-fitting clothes. Wash your face with soap on the morning of the surgery, and avoid scented lotion, cream, or aftershave.
You should also avoid wearing jewelry on the day of your procedure.
Cataract surgery is pain-free, with most people only feeling slight pressure. You’ll receive eye drops to numb your eyes during the procedure.
Some people also receive mild sedating medication to help them relax during the procedure. You’ll need to talk to your eye doctor about what type of anesthesia is best for you.
Cataract surgery is generally a very safe procedure, and complications after cataract surgery aren’t common. Your eye doctor will discuss the risks with you, which include the following:
- Dislocation of the artificial lens
- Secondary cataract
- Loss of vision
What to Expect During the Procedure
Cataract surgeries are outpatient procedures, and it typically only takes from 20 minutes to an hour for the entire process.
You’ll first receive local anesthesia in your eye. Your cataract surgeon will then make a small cut in front of your eye, often using a laser to help. They’ll then use a small tool that emits ultrasound waves to break up the cataract and gently suction it entirely out.
Next, they’ll insert your new lens and close up the incision.
You’ll need a short amount of time for recovery and will need someone to drive you home.
Your vision may be blurry while your eye heals and adjusts to the new lens. However, your vision should begin improving within a few days after cataract surgery.
Colors often appear brighter after surgery because you have a clear lens. You might also experience mild discomfort and itching for a few days after surgery. It’s essential not to rub or push on your eye during the healing process.
Your eye doctor may ask you to wear a protective eye patch or an eye shield for a day or two after surgery. You may also need to continue taking eye drops after surgery to reduce inflammation and pressure.
You should start feeling better in a few days and expect complete healing within eight weeks. Contact your eye doctor immediately if you experience problems like:
- Eyelid swelling
- Increased eye redness
- Pain that keeps persisting after using over-the-counter medications
- Vision loss
- Light flashes or multiple floaters
Preparing for Cataract Surgery
Now that you know more about preparing for cataract surgery, you’ll feel much more comfortable during your procedure.
If you’re looking for an experienced cataract surgeon in Austin, you can turn to Texan Eye Care for all your vision care needs. We offer advanced cataract care and surgery, glaucoma care, surgical vision corrections, general eye care, and oculoplastics to remove excess skin from around your eye.
We’ve been helping people for over 25 years and are leaders in our industry in cataract and refractive surgeries.
We look forward to helping you see clearly, so make sure to contact us today to schedule an appointment!