Common Questions About Cataracts
1. What are the risks of cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States. The complication rate is typically very low; in fact, 99.9% of cataract patients experience no ill effects at all. However, it is still a surgery and carries some chance of risks, including:
• Dry eye
• Secondary cataract
Choosing a surgeon who has performed thousands of successful procedures will help reduce the risk of complications. You should always be fully informed about the potential risks, benefits and your surgeon’s track record of success.
2. What actually happens during cataract surgery?
At the Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado, we perform both traditional cataract surgery and laser-assisted cataract surgery. The type of procedure right for you will depend on your own vision characteristics.
In both techniques, a small incision is made on the eye’s surface. This will be done using either a hand-held blade or a femtosecond laser. The cataract-affected lens is gently removed from the eye using either ultrasound waves or the femtosecond laser.
A replacement intraocular lens (IOL) is then inserted into the eye. This is a permanent artificial lens that will be impervious to the development of future cataracts. Once the new lens is properly in place, the surgery is complete. There is usually no need for stitches or sutures; the incision heals on its own.
The procedure takes 10-15 minutes. If both eyes have cataracts, the second eye surgery will be performed approximately two weeks later to allow time for the first eye to heal and adapt.
3. Does cataract surgery hurt?
All patients have a different threshold of pain; however, most of our patients do not feel any pain during surgery. To minimize any mild discomfort after surgery, your doctor may prescribe pain medication or recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever.
4. What can I expect after cataract surgery?
We will ask that you relax for a while in our office after surgery. Once your doctor has reviewed your results, you will need to have someone drive you home. Your doctor will provide a protective eye shield to wear the day of your procedure as well as while sleeping for the first week. You will be given prescription eye drops to use for a few weeks following the procedure. For the first two weeks after surgery, avoid strenuous activity, swimming or exposing your eye to dust or grime.
Many patients experience vision improvement the day after cataract surgery; however, it may take a month or so for the full effect of improved vision. If you still require glasses after surgery, your eyeglass prescription may need to be updated to ensure the sharpest vision. We will work with your present eye doctor to determine the best follow up plan for you.
5. Do I need to have my cataract removed right away?
Not necessarily. The early onset of cataracts may not affect your vision. However, as they grow larger and your vision becomes cloudier, you should seriously consider cataract surgery. Frequent visits to your ophthalmologist will help to monitor the progress of your cataract and determine when surgery is necessary to prevent blindness.
6. Are Active Lifestyle Lenses right for me?
Only you can decide if advanced replacement lenses will significantly impact your quality of life. Many of our cataract patients are extremely satisfied with their vision after choosing Active Lifestyle Lenses. They can live their lives lens-free; that means no glasses or contacts needed to play water sports, read, knit, drive or any daily activity.
7. Can Active Lifestyle Lenses correct all vision issues?
No. Some vision disorders are the result of irregularly-shaped corneas. If you are nearsighted or farsighted, you may need LASIK to correct the refractive error. The Active Lifestyle Lenses we offer at the Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado will not change the shape of your cornea.
8. How much does cataract surgery cost?
Medicare and most health insurance plans typically cover the cost of cataract surgery and standard (Monofocal) intraocular lenses as these are considered medical necessities. Choosing an Active Lifestyle Lens to correct presbyopia is not covered by Medicare. Active Lifestyle Lenses can cost up to $5,000 for both eyes. We will discuss the costs and payment options during your consultation.