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Cataract surgery is a procedure to remove the lens of your eye and, in most cases, replace it with an artificial lens. Normally, the lens of your eye is clear. A cataract causes the lens to become cloudy, which eventually affects your vision. Cataract surgery is performed by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) on an outpatient basis, which means you don’t have to stay in the hospital after the surgery. Cataract surgery can be done traditionally using ultrasound energy to remove the cloudy lens or it can be removed with laser-assisted technology. Cataract surgery is very common and is generally a safe procedure.
Signs and symptoms of cataracts include:
- Clouded, blurred or dim vision
- Increasing difficulty with vision at night
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
- Seeing “halos” around lights
- Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
- Fading or yellowing of colors
- Double vision in a single eye
How you prepare
To prepare for your cataract surgery, you may be asked to:
- Undergo tests. A week or so before your surgery, your doctor performs a painless ultrasound test to measure the size and shape of your eye. This helps determine the right type of lens implant (intraocular lens, or IOL).
- Stop taking certain medications. Your doctor may advise you to temporarily stop taking any medication that could increase your risk of bleeding during the procedure. Let your doctor know if you take any medications for prostate problems, as some of these drugs can interfere with cataract surgery.
- Use eyedrops to reduce infection risk. Antibiotic eyedrops may be prescribed for use one or two days before the surgery.
- Fast before surgery. You may be instructed not to eat or drink anything 12 hours before the procedure.
After cataract surgery
- After cataract surgery, expect your vision to begin improving within a few days. Your vision may be blurry at first as your eye heals and adjusts.
- Colors may seem brighter after your surgery because you are looking through a new, clear lens. A cataract is usually yellow- or brown-tinted before surgery, muting the look of colors.
- You’ll usually see your eye doctor a day or two after your surgery, the following week, and then again after about a month to monitor healing.
- It’s normal to feel itching and mild discomfort for a couple of days after surgery. Avoid rubbing or pushing on your eye.
- Your doctor may ask you to wear an eye patch or protective shield the day of surgery. Your doctor may also recommend wearing the eye patch for a few days after your surgery and the protective shield when you sleep during the recovery period.
- Your doctor may prescribe eyedrops or other medication to prevent infection, reduce inflammation and control eye pressure. Sometimes, steroid medications can be injected into the eye at the time of surgery to keep inflammation at bay.
- After a couple of days, most of the discomfort should disappear. Often, complete healing occurs within eight weeks.
Dangerous symptoms after cataract surgery
If you experience any of the following symptoms, please contact your ophthalmologist:
- Vision loss
- Increased eye redness
- Pain that persists despite the use of over-the-counter pain medications
- Light flashes or multiple spots (floaters) in front of your eye
- Nausea, vomiting or excessive coughing