Life AFTER Cataract Surgery: Here’s What To Expect

Intraocular lens on a finger tip.

Did you know the lens inside of your eye is crystal clear at birth? Pretty cool, right? However, as the years go by, that same crystal clear lens begins to cloud up and develops into a cataract. As a result, if you live long enough, you’ll eventually get cataracts.

Here are examples of cataracts that need surgery

When is it time for cataract surgery?

A good time to should start thinking about having cataract surgery is when your eye doctor confirms you have a cataract and your vision starts to bothers you (even with glasses or contact lenses). For example, if you have visually significant cataracts, you may have trouble reading, watching tv, or driving at night.

Fortunately, cataract surgery is technologically advanced and only takes about 20 minutes for your surgeon to perform. Instead of being put to sleep, you’re given medicine to put you in a relaxed and comfortable state. Just as with any surgery, there is still a risk of infection, inflammation, or loss of vision but these risks are very rare and likely will not happen.

Intraocular lens options

At the time of your cataract surgery, your surgeon will take out your cataract and replace it with an intraocular lens implant so you can see. As a result, you will have the option of various lens upgrades that will allow you to be less dependent on glasses or contacts after surgery.

Source: Frank C. Müller / Wikimedia Commons

In standard cases, you typically won’t need glasses for the distance. On the other hand, more premium upgrades will allow you to see well in the distance and up close! It’s important to discuss with your surgeon which options are best for you as it’ll depend on the health and shape of your eye as well as your goals following surgery.

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Life after cataract surgery

After your cataract surgery, you should avoid dusty and dirty environments for at least a week. Depending on your surgeon, you may need to take eye drops for several weeks after the surgery. However, recent advancements have made it possible for your surgeon to place the medicine you need after the surgery inside your eye, eliminating the need for eye drops in the majority of cases. With this technique, you’ll see floaters in your vision that could last for several weeks. Fortunately, they’ll go away with time.

The day after surgery you’ll follow up with your surgeon to make sure the pressure in your eye is within a normal range and everything is properly healing. Also, a week or two after the surgery you should have your eye dilated to make sure your retina is still intact. After 3-4 weeks (or when your doctor has determined your surgery has stabilized) it’s safe to update your glasses. Overall, it typically takes approximately 1 month for your eye to recover from cataract surgery (with some cases taking longer).

Posterior capsule opacification (i.e. a secondary cataract)
Source: Rakesh Ahuja, MD / Wikipedia Commons

Will your cataract come back? 

Absolutely not! In fact, the special lens your surgeon placed inside your eye will last for the rest of your life. However, in a small number of cases, a little film will grow over your lens and make it difficult for you to see (again). If this happens to you, you’ll need a simple in-office laser treatment to remove it. Fortunately, this procedure takes about 1-2 minutes for your doctor to perform and is very straightforward.

Think you’re ready for cataract surgery? What are you waiting for? Make sure to schedule an appointment with your local eye care professional today!