Cataract Surgery FAQs
You may be a candidate for cataract surgery if you are experiencing decreased or blurred vision, glare and halos, impaired depth perception, worsening color perception, or are having blurred vision even with your new glasses. Dr. Cavanaugh can help determine if cataract surgery is right for you, schedule a consultation today!
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.
Cataract surgery patients often report:
- They have reduced glare from bright lights
- They have a better tolerance of bright lights
- They can tell the difference between colors more easily
- They can see things with better clarity and focus
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 in 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 blurry vision and/or glare from headlights.
- You have difficulty functioning at work and home because of your blurry vision, even with glasses and/or contacts.
- You do not see well enough to do things you like to do (i.e. driving, 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 due to vision limitations.
- Your glasses aren’t providing good enough vision.
Patients experience virtually no discomfort during cataract surgery. In most cases, your surgery can be done with mild sedation and topical anesthetic to the eye 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 three to four hours. With the topical technique, no patch is required. Mild discomfort, foreign body sensation, or scratchiness for the first 24 hours is typical.
No, only one eye will be treated at a time. This is because it takes the eye some time to heal — and during this time, your vision will still be compromised. The second eye can be treated approximately two weeks after the first eye has healed and stabilized.
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 Surgery Center (ASC). Deer Creek Surgery Center is conveniently located about six blocks from our main office in Overland Park. For specifics on our various locations, click here.
Cataract surgery takes about 10-15 minutes. However, you’ll need to plan to be at the surgery center for approximately two hours 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.
Cataract surgery can be performed manually or with a laser. Dr. Cavanaugh is experienced with both methods. There are several different types of incisions made during cataract surgery to allow Dr. Cavanaugh access to your cataract and to optimize your visual outcome by treating astigmatism. In manual cataract surgery, all incisions are made by hand, utilizing a blade. With bladeless laser-assisted cataract surgery, incisions are made by an automated laser guided by live OCT imaging. To learn more about manual versus bladeless laser-assisted cataract surgery, click here.
Immediately after surgery, you may notice an improvement in your vision; however, it is common for things to still 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. The duration of healing and full vision recovery 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. Your cornea will be swollen immediately after surgery and results in foggy vision that clears quickly within the first week. Additionally, you may be dilated for up to 72 hours after surgery.
- Do not sleep without the plastic shield over the eye for the first 24 hours.
- Do not rub the eye and avoid getting hit or bumped in the eye.
- Do not lift more than 50 lbs for the first two weeks.
- Avoid bending past your waist for two weeks.
- No swimming, scuba diving, or hot tubs for two weeks.
- Wear protective sunglasses outside.
- Driving may be resumed after your one-day post-operative visit and when you feel confident, safe, and your vision meets state driving requirements.
- You may take a shower THE DAY AFTER surgery but keep your eyes closed — do not allow water to spray directly onto your face and avoid soap or shampoo in your eyes for one week.
- Eye cosmetics should not be used for three days. Foundation and facial moisturizers are fine.
- All other normal daily activities may be resumed.
- Initial blur like you are looking through a steamy shower door.
- Fluctuating vision with progressive clearing over the next few weeks.
- Mild “fluttering” in the vision due to early movement of the IOL.
- Minor discomfort: dryness, mild ache, or scratchiness.
- Possible droopy upper eyelid that improves over time.
- Glare, halos, or starbursts around lights at night that improve with time.
- You may need over-the-counter reading glasses to sharpen near vision until you are fully healed.
- Your old glasses may not be right — if necessary, new glasses will be prescribed by your optometrist or by us at your one-month post-op visit.
Cavanaugh Eye Center offers co-management, allowing you to keep your care close to home by working with eye doctors in the region. You may have been referred by your optometrist for surgical care at our practice and ambulatory surgery center. Dr. Cavanaugh performs your cataract, LASIK, or IOL surgery but if you prefer, your local eye doctor can assume postoperative care at the one-day, one-week, or one-month juncture through co-management options.
Your local doctor communicates your post-operative results to Dr. Cavanaugh. If there are any concerns, Dr. Cavanaugh may ask to see you personally. There is no patient cost difference for co-management. 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.
Astigmatism is commonly 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 glasses or contact lenses.
Whether you will need to wear glasses or contacts after your procedure depends on several factors including your unique eye history, how close you heal to your intended target, and which type of lens implant/procedure you choose. Patients with monofocal lenses will have to wear glasses for distance and/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.
A cataract can never return because the original lens has been removed. However, approximately 60-70% 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. The good news is that this is easily fixed with a minor procedure called a YAG laser capsulotomy, and is a permanent solution for this issue.
You will be prescribed eyedrops to use after your cataract surgery. You will take an antibiotic drop to prevent infection, a steroid drop to control inflammation, and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drop. Most often, these drops will be combined into one easy-to-use bottle.
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure done under local anesthetic with success rates over 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 our Surgical Consent for further information.
If you are taking Flomax for prostate conditions, you must let your surgeon know so they may take precautions due to a condition known as (Floppy Iris Syndrome). Men taking Flomax for prostate conditions develop loose 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.
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 to correct your astigmatism or select a multifocal or accommodating lens like the PanOptix Trifocal IOL, you will have to pay for the additional cost of the astigmatism correction or 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 upgrades fit your budget.