Cataract Surgery FAQs

Cataract Surgery FAQs: See below for some of the most frequently asked questions regarding your cataract surgery experience at Cavanaugh Eye Center

When does the vision become normal?

After the surgery, you may notice an immediate improvement but your vision may be blurry. The healing eye needs time to adjust so that it can focus properly with the other eye, especially if the other eye has a cataract. This healing period may take several weeks. How long it takes to see normally depends on the vision in your other eye, the lens you choose, your refractive target, and your vision before surgery. It may take a while to adjust to the new colors and brightness you will see.

Is cataract surgery done with a laser?

Cataract surgery can be performed manually or with a laser. Dr. Cavanaugh is experienced with both methods. To learn more about manual versus bladeless, laser-assisted cataract surgery, click here.

How do I know if I am a candidate for cataract surgery?

You may be a candidate for cataract surgery if you are experiencing decreased or blurred vision, glare and halos, impaired depth perception, increased color distortion or are having blurred vision even with your new glasses.

What are the symptoms of a cataract?

Because cataracts form in different ways, the symptoms of cataracts are variable. Most people notice that their vision gradually deteriorates — objects may begin to look yellow, hazy, blurred or distorted. Many people also find that they need more light to see clearly or that they experience glare and haloes from lights at night. Other common problems include increasing nearsightedness, double vision out of one eye or the appearance of dark spots or shadows in the vision. In advanced cases, the cataract may be visible as a white or yellow-looking pupil.

When should I have cataract surgery?

Most people have plenty of time to decide about cataract surgery. Your doctor cannot make the decision for you, but talking with your doctor can help you decide. Most people elect for cataract surgery when they experience visual limitations for their lifestyle. Tell your doctor how your cataract affects your vision and your life. Read the statements below, see which ones apply to you, and tell your doctor if:

  • You have trouble driving at night due to glare from headlights.
  • You have difficulty functioning at work and home because of your blurry vision.
  • You do not see well enough to do things you like to do (i.e. Driving and seeing road signs, reading, watching TV, sewing, going for walks, playing cards, and going out with friends).
  • You are afraid you will fall or bump into things.
  • You are not as independent as you would like to be.
  • Your glasses aren’t providing good enough vision.

Will I ever get another cataract again?

A cataract cannot ever return because the original lens has been removed. However, a percentage of all people who have cataract surgery develop a lens capsule opacity (the thin tissue bag that holds the replacement lens becomes cloudy). This cloudiness can develop months or years after surgery. It can cause the same vision problems as the original cataract but is easily fixed with a YAG laser capsulotomy procedure.

What are the benefits of cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery restores quality vision for millions of patients each year. Good vision is vital to an enjoyable lifestyle. Numerous research studies show that cataract surgery restores quality-of-life functions including reading, working, moving around, hobbies, safety, self-confidence, independence, daytime and nighttime driving, community and social activities, mental health, and overall life satisfaction.

Will it treat my astigmatism?

Astigmatism can be corrected by three different surgical methods: Limbal Relaxing Incisions (LRIs), Toric IOLs, and LASIK. In general, low astigmatism is corrected with a Monofocal IOL and LRI, and high astigmatism is corrected with a Toric IOL. Sometimes supplemental LRI or LASIK is needed if the astigmatism is severe. Since astigmatism treatment is an elective procedure, medical insurance does not cover this corrective procedure. Insurance DOES cover the cataract removal portion but NOT the astigmatism correction portion. Alternatives to surgical astigmatism correction are correction with glasses or contact lenses.

How long does the surgery take?

Cataract surgery takes about 10-15 minutes. You’ll need to plan to be at the surgery center for approximately 2 hours, however, to accommodate the pre-op preparation and post-op recovery period. Deer Creek Surgical Center has closer-to-door drive up service and you can comfortably have someone drive you home after the procedure.

Is the procedure painful?

Patients experience virtually no discomfort during cataract surgery. In most cases your surgery can be done with topical anesthetic using a numbing gel. For certain patients and for more difficult cases, a local block can be done that provides a deeper level of anesthesia. Both are safe and eliminate the risk associated with general anesthesia. If you have a block, a patch will be required for 3-4 hours. With the topical technique, no patch is required. Mild discomfort for the first 24 hours is typical.

Will both eyes be treated at the same time?

No, only one eye will be treated at a time. The second eye can be treated approximately 2 weeks after the first eye has healed and stabilized.

Will I still have to wear glasses?

Whether you will need to wear glasses or contacts after your procedure depends on which type of lens you choose to implant. Patients who choose to implant monofocal lenses will have to wear glasses for either distance or up close work, since monofocal lenses are designed to focus only at one distance. Patients who choose to upgrade to premium multifocus lenses will have a broader range of vision and greater freedom from glasses.

Does insurance pay for cataract surgery?

Since cataract surgery is a medical procedure, insurance companies and Medicare will pay for the surgery and the implantation of a monofocal lens. If you choose a multifocal or accommodating lens like the ReStor or Crystalens, however, you will have to pay for the additional cost of the lens upgrade.

Your employer’s flexible spending or cafeteria plan may offer tax advantages for cataract surgery upgrades. We can help you understand your options and what questions to ask your benefits administrator. In addition, Cavanaugh Eye Center offers several different payment options to help make lens upgrade fit your budget.

What are risks and complications of the surgery?

Cataract surgery is a 10 to 15 minute outpatient procedure done under local anesthetic with success rates of 98% to 99%. No surgery is 100% risk free. The risks with cataract surgery that can lead to permanent loss of vision are rare and typically have less than a 1% chance of occurring. The main risks to be aware of include: retinal detachment, bleeding or hemorrhage during surgery, intraocular infection (endophthalmitis) after surgery, corneal swelling (permanent), macular or retinal swelling (cystoid macular edema) or not obtaining the desired refractive target or visual outcome. This list is brief and incomplete so please refer to your surgical consent for the complete list.

What if I am taking FLOMAX or prostate medications?

If you are taking Flomax for prostate conditions, you must let your surgeon know so that they may take precautions due to a condition known as (Floppy Iris Syndrome). Men taking Flomax for prostate conditions develop loose floppy iris tissue which can cause complications during cataract surgery. These problems can be avoided with precautions if we have prior knowledge of your use of Flomax or other prostate medications.

May I be co-managed with my Optometrist?

You may have been referred by your Optometrist for surgical care at our practice and ambulatory surgery center. Dr. Cavanaugh performs the surgery but if you prefer, your local eye doctor can assume the postoperative care at the one-day, one-week or one-month juncture. Your local doctor communicates your post-operative results to Dr. Cavanaugh. If there are any concerns, Dr. Cavanaugh may ask to see you personally. Your local Eye Doctor is paid a portion of the global fee for surgery to compensate for the post-operative visits they do for you.

Where is the surgery done?

Most of Dr. Cavanaugh’s surgeries are done at Deer Creek Surgery Center (DCSC) which is a state of the art Medicare certified Ophthalmic ambulatory. Deer Creek Surgery Center is conveniently located about 6 blocks from our main office in Overland Park. See the locations page for specifics on DCSC and also our Topeka locations.

What is the cost?

Cataract surgery is covered by Medicaid, Medicare, and virtually all health insurance plans. Single focus IOL implants are fully covered since insurers view these lens replacements as medically necessary. However, the premium multifocus implants – such as ReStor, Crystalens, and Trulign – are not currently covered (even if the procedure is), because they cost more and because their special features tend to be viewed by insurers as “very nice to have” but not absolutely necessary. Medicare will reimburse the surgical facility for the cost of a traditional IOL but the patient will be responsible for the difference. Click here for more information on the cost of your procedure.