SoCal Eye Cataract Surgery FAQs

SoCal Eye Cataract Surgery FAQs brings you answers to common questions associated with Cataracts, Cataract Treatment and Surgery. If you have further questions please contact us for a consultation.

WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER SOCAL EYE FOR MY CATARACT SURGERY?

At SoCal Eye, our skilled cataract surgeons are recognized specialists who not only perform but teach cataract and implant surgery. We provide the latest generation of implantable lenses, including self-focusing, accommodating, multifocal, and astigmatism-correcting intraocular lenses.

Our surgeons are clinical professors who have taught the newest implant techniques to ophthalmologists around the country.  As one of only five groups in California and 20 groups nationwide, our surgeons have been selected to conduct clinical trials on some of the newest implant technologies.

WHAT IS A CATARACT?

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s internal focusing lens. For most people, it gradually develops throughout life and may cause visual difficulty. Detectable signs of cataracts often appear in patients in their 50s or 60s.

WHEN SHOULD I HAVE MY CATARACT REMOVED AND WHY?

We no longer recommend surgery when a cataract is “ripe.” Rather, the decision for surgery is based on when visual difficulties begin to interfere with normal activities of daily living, like driving, reading, work, or hobbies. Recommendations for cataract surgery are made on a case-by-case basis, since different patients experience different degrees of difficulty with the symptoms.

IS SURGERY PERFORMED IN A HOSPITAL OR AS AN OUTPATIENT?

With SoCal Eye, cataract surgery is performed in the hospital or as an outpatient in our own Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC). Our expert surgical center nursing staff specialize in eye surgery. It is their primary goal to provide each patient exceptional care, and to maximize comfort throughout the entire surgery experience.

Cataract Surgery - Normal Eye

NORMAL EYE: A healthy, clear lens allows a sharp image to fall on every part of the retina, allowing a crisp, clear image to be seen.

Cataract Surgery - Vision with CataractsCATARACT EYE: A cloudy lens scatters light, causing a hazy image to be seen.

HOW LONG DOES THE SURGERY TAKE?

The procedure itself takes about ten minutes. Most people are in the surgical center for about two hours, including preoperative and postoperative time.

IS CATARACT SURGERY UNCOMFORTABLE?

Most people say that there is no pain during or after cataract surgery. Occasionally, patients experience a scratchy sensation (like an eyelash in the eye) and mild soreness for about 24 hours after the procedure. If necessary, they take aspirin, Advil (ibuprofen), or Tylenol (acetaminophen).

HOW IS THE CATARACT REMOVED?

The cataract is removed in a 10-minute procedure where a small opening (less than 1/8 inch) is made painlessly on the side of the eye (the cornea), allowing the surgeon to dissolve the lens of the eye and remove it in tiny pieces. An artificial lens implant made of silicone or plastic is folded into a small package, then inserted into the eye and unfolded in the proper position. The new lens remains permanently in this position—it will never need maintenance or replacement. The new lens can be selected to minimize the need for glasses following surgery.

AFTER THE SURGERY, WILL MY CATARACT COME BACK?

After cataract surgery, it is impossible for a cataract to come back because the lens of the eye, which was the cataract, has been removed. It is possible, however, for a cloudy film to grow on the lens capsule membrane that is located behind the lens implant. Treatment of this film, sometimes called a “secondary cataract,” is done with a laser in a simple in-office procedure that only takes a couple of minutes. The eye is not even patched, and patients may drive themselves home.

WILL I NEED GLASSES AFTER SURGERY?

With newer technologies available at our center (like focusing implants and astigmatism correction), many patients are able to drive a car and read newsprint without glasses. Some of these options may not be covered by Medicare or private insurance. SoCal Eye staff is happy to answer questions about these technologies during a visit to our office.

WHAT RESTRICTIONS WILL I HAVE AFTER CATARACT SURGERY?

For the first 24 hours after surgery, an eye patch is kept over the healing eye and the effects of anesthesia will be wearing off. During this time, we recommend restful activity. Eating, watching television, reading, and walking around the house are allowed. After the eye patch is removed, patients can begin administering their postoperative eye drops. Aside from not rubbing the operative eye, there are minimal restrictions after surgery. Our doctors and counselors will fully discuss these with you before surgery. For more information about post-surgery restrictions, please contact us.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF SURGERY?

While cataract surgery is relatively safe, there are risks with every kind of surgery; cataract surgery is no exception. The risk of severe complications, such as infection or retinal detachment, is about 1 in 1000. Less severe complications can include irritation or prolonged recovery time with delayed visual improvement. This is not a complete list of risks that occur with surgery, and individual patients may have other risks based on their co-existing medical or eye conditions. SoCal Eye doctors have extensive experience performing cataract surgery in unusual circumstances and can fully discuss these risks with you. Contact either your optometrist or our office to schedule a consultation.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECOVER FROM CATARACT SURGERY? 

The recovery time from cataract surgery is short with full recovery in approximately three to four weeks. However patients typically see improvements within the first couple days of surgery. Some patients may experience slight discomfort or soreness following the procedure which should disappear within a few days to a few weeks.

CAN YOU HAVE CATARACT SURGERY IN BOTH EYES AT THE SAME TIME? 

If cataracts are present in both eyes, surgery will be performed on one eye at a time with a few weeks gap between procedures.  This will allow recovery in the first eye before the procedure on the second eye.

WHAT CAUSES A CATARACT? 

Studies on the cause of cataracts show that cataracts occur as a result of either aging or injury to the eye and in some cases due to underlying medical conditions.

  • Aging is the most common cause with many patients experiencing cataracts in their 60s.
  • Ultraviolet light or extended exposure to the sunlight is a known catalyst for the formation of cataracts. UV blocking sunglasses can reduce exposure over time.
  • People with Diabetes are a higher risk for cataracts developing earlier in life.
  • Cigarettes, air pollution, severe alcohol consumption may also elevate risks for developing cataracts.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CATARACTS? 

Cataracts are progressive and create change in your vision over time. Cataracts start out very small and are often un-noticeable but as they grow vision becomes blurry as if looking through dirty eyeglasses. Object edges may appear to fade into one another and colors may not appear as bright as they should.

The most common symptoms of a cataract are:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision.
  • Problems with light, such as headlights that seem too bright, glare from lamps or very bright sunlight.
  • Colors that seem faded.
  • Poor night vision.
  • Double or multiple vision.
  • Frequent changes in glasses or contact lenses.
  • Optical aids such as eyeglasses or contact lenses are no longer effective.
 WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE AND DURING CATARACT SURGERY? 

Before cataract surgery, you’ll meet with one of our cataract specialists to have a comprehensive exam, discuss your lens options and to clarify any questions or concerns you may have. This will be a good time to disclose any current prescriptions or medications you’re taking. Before the surgeon begins the procedure, they’ll dilate your pupils and apply preoperative medication.

During the procedure:

  1. Anesthetic is applied to your eye and mild sedation is given through an iv.
  2. The surgeon makes a small incision in the outer part of your eye, in order to access the cataract.
  3. The cataract is gently broken up and removed.
  4. Your chosen IOL is implanted to replace the original lens.
CAN I DRIVE AFTER CATARACT SURGERY? 

It’s recommended that you don’t drive for up to 24 hours after your cataract surgery, so please be aware that you will need a friend or relative to drive you home after the procedure. In most cases you’ll have a follow-up appointment with your doctor the day after cataract surgery. Your doctor will then assess your vision and decide whether you’re clear to drive.

CAN I EXCERCISE AFTER CATARACT SURGERY? 

In most cases, yes, patients can return to their typical exercise schedule. We prefer that patients avoid all water sports (swimming, surfing, etc) for three weeks after surgery. If you have questions on specific activities please bring it up during the consultation.

WHAT IS AN INTRACULAR LENS (IOL)? 

An intraocular lens (IOL) is an artificial lens that is implanted during surgery to replace your cataractous lens. You can choose from many different types of IOLs—some are designed to provide only distance vision, while multifocal lenses deliver near, intermediate, and distance vision for clear, complete focus. After a surgeon removes your cataract-clouded lens, he or she will implant the IOL that you chose before your procedure.

HOW LONG TO CATARACT REPLACEMENT LENSES LAST? 

IOLs are very durable and usually last a lifetime. The lens you choose will make a big difference in your vision after surgery. By investing in your vision, you’re investing in your future. Patients appreciate that this is their opportunity to customize their vision to match their individual lifestyle.

WHAT IS A MULTIFOCAL LENS? 

A multifocal lens is a type of implant that is specifically engineered to provide vision at every distance, from near through far and can offer benefits beyond a standard cataract lens. The near vision is typically up to two feet from the patient. Closer than that, and reading glasses are required.