I'm Going to be Having Cataract Surgery- What To Expect?

In the last year or so, my vision in my right eye began rapidly declining, to the point that I can tell it’s getting worse almost daily. I finally broke down and got an eye exam, and found that I have a cataract in that eye. The doctor was a little surprised, because I am not quite 53 years old.

He recommended me an opthomologist, and I have an appointment set with him March 11; I will be having the surgery sometime after that. The cataract will be removed and a new lens implanted. What I’m wondering is… what do I expect? Will I be out cold for the operation? What is the recovery like? How long can I expect to be off work? How painful is it?

Any other info you guys can supply will be greatly appreciated. I haven’t had any kind of surgery since I had my tonsils out at age 5. I am a little freaked out by it, but at the same time… I WANT TO SEE AGAIN!! I haven’t been able to enjoy my painting hobby for far too long.

Reassure me, my friends…

I have a good friend who had cataract surgery a year or two ago. He drove himself home after the brief operation. He doesn’t even know where the incision was made. It was almost a completely pain-free operation, like a filling or something.

Total piece of cake, and I’ve had 2. You will not be out, except briefly, when they immobilize the eye. Then they give you TA DA! Bionic lenses!! You will be amazed to see colors again, and 3 actual dimensions!!! BTW, I was your age, and the cataract Dx knocked me for a loop. My 70 yr. old mother took me to the surgery, and they kept addressing her as the patient! Went back to work the next day, picked up my car at the hospital and drove home!! Loved it!!

This is sounding great! Ther loss of my eye sight is one of my biggest fears. I’m glad to hear that this is no big deal. I have a cataract starting in my left eye, too, so will likely be getting that one done too.

Do it! There’s old thinking that cataracts have to “ripen” to be removed. Total crap. If your doc says that, find another. Preferably someone more up on his craft.

I had two done when I was a teenager. As surgical procedures go, they’re pretty easy and usually uneventful. Being semi-conscious while a surgeon is putzing around inside your eyeball is kinda trippy, though.

The surgery itself is a piece of cake. There are occasional complications, a 1% chance of a detached retina (don’t delay seeing the ophthalmologist if there are any untoward symptoms such as a sudden increase in black floaters, as I did). One ophthalmologist told a friend of mine that in one case in 1500, vision is worse after the operation than before. And although I have heard tell of people driving themselves home after the operation, it is not a good idea. In fact, ideally you will be accompanied by someone who can take on that chore.

The only painful part of my operations was the injection of the local anesthetic. It was similar to a dentist’s injection of anesthetic.

My Mom had both eyes done. My Dad is a month or two away from having his first done.
Mom’s experience lines up with the above - simple. She opted to have a corrective lens put in while they were there, so she actually came out better than before the cataract.

Good luck!

That must be scary. Good luck!


Funny you should ask. I just had this procedure done in November.

There were no injections. They gave me an IV that was supposed to be a sort of “twilight sleep,” but it didn’t seem to do much to me. They put lots of drops in my eye, which I presume were anaesthetic and antibiotics. The procedure seemed to me to take about 5 minutes.

I had some pain in the area for several days. I also had a reaction in my cornea called “map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy.” That is apparently extremely rare. It took about 2 months to clear up with various eye drops prescribed, and my vision out of that eye was quite poor during that time.

You say you are 53. Do you currently wear glasses? Need reading glasses? If so, you will need to consult with the opthalmalogist about what kind of artificial lens to have to replace the natural one.

I opted for the fanciest kind, which was supposed to eliminate any need for corrective lenses. However, for some reason the surgery added astigmatism to that eye. My next choice was whether to get another laser surgery to correct the astigmatism. I chose to just get a corrective lens. This situation is apparently also rare. I also now get a series of concentric halos around lights. This is known to happen, but is not the usual experience.

Myself, I didn’t drive for a couple of days, but then I am retired and don’t have to drive if I don’t feel like it. I would not suggest planning to drive home after the surgery. Some surgery centers insist that you have someone with you to drive home.

The idea that cataracts should “ripen” before you have them removed is another way of saying that you don’t have to be in a rush to have this done if it isn’t bothering you. I’ve been told by various opthalomologists for at least a decade or more that I had cataracts forming but that they were not severe enough to warrant the surgery.

Again, the surgery itself is no big deal, certainly not as bad has having dental work. Complications are very rare; I just happened to be one of the one in a gazillion where there were problems. I have no current plans to have the other eye operated on.

I had both eyes done, the first time there were complications, the doctor took care of that, I had had a Goat punch it’s horn in the eye when I was 12, then in my teens I was walking by a factory and got a tiny piece of steel in it, My eye swelled shut, the doctor removed it with a magnet. I apparently had a chronic infection in it, and that was part of my problem. I was put to sleep the first time, I hada different doctor do the other eye, and I was even awake during the procedure,felt no pain and had no problems after that. My sight is better in spite of the fact that I have Gloucoma, and have lost some side sight.

That’s an incredibly irresponsible piece of advice.

I was diagnosed with early stage cataracts a couple of years ago. My eye doctor recommends that we monitor the situation every six months (barring symptoms). A percentage of his patients never require surgery.

Call me crazy, but I’m going to heed the advice of my board-certified opthamologist who specializes in cataracts and glaucoma over that of DummyGladHands.

I’m getting the same advice (diagnosed recently). For now, the prescription change is taking care of things, so we’ll see what transpires over the next year. A friend who just had this done was advised to do no lifting for a while, and had to use drops, but otherwise there were no other issues.

My doctor said essentially the same thing: she found a cataract, but told me that it can be left alone until it begins to affect my vision. (Right now, it’s just an occasional minor blurriness that’s hardly a problem.)

She specializes in cataract surgery, so since she stands to gain nothing by telling me to wait, I figure she’s on the level.

Mine is bad enough that it IS effecting my vision. I do wear glasses, for driving, going to the movies, anything at a distance. I read & do computer work without my glasses, but that is getting more difficult for me.

The way my regular eye doctor explained it, the lens implant will mak eit just the opposir=te- I’ll be able to see distances afterwards, and need glasses for close work.

Am I understanding this correctly that I’ll be AWAKE for this surgery??? That’s a little scary… What do you SEE while they are working on your eye?

Earlier thread by MLS on this subject

Thank you for directing me to that. Some rather frightening posts in that thread. Hoping that this goes smoothly…

mmm, just suggesting that someone might find a differing opinion at another “Board Certified Opthamologist.” A second opinion is pretty much always a good idea, no?

Based on my two experiences, it’s mostly a blurry white light. But I did not see any dead relatives, so I wasn’t too worried. :smiley:

Had one done. Piece of cake. I do have star bursts, but have gotten used to them. I noticed the other eye doesn’t see as bright as the other. I only notice this if I close one eye, then close the other. The ophthalmologist said, let’s get it out, you have insurance. Saw another ophthalmologist and he said, leave it alone. It may never get worse. He was pointing out that there are risks, which I appreciated.