Cataract surgery is an out-patient, elective procedure. At the time of the preoperative consultation, detailed preoperative and postoperative instructions are forwarded to the patient. All patients must undergo a physical in order to be cleared for cataract surgery and most will also need an EKG (all men over the age of 45 and all women over the age of 50). It is ideal to have the physical and EKG performed within the allotted time frame as instructed on the patient’s preoperative paperwork (within 30 days of surgery). Typically, patients arrive at the appropriate surgical center one to two hours prior to the surgical start time. Preoperatively, nurses will administer dilating drops and anti-inflammatory drops into the operative eye. Prior to surgery a mild sedative will be administered intravenously to make the patient more comfortable and relaxed during the procedure. A local anesthetic is used to numb the operative eye. The patient should not experience pain during the procedure. The patient can speak up if experiencing any discomfort or anxiety and more anesthetic can be administered. Vital signs are monitored throughout the procedure and the anesthesiologist is available to ensure maximal comfort and safety.
Following surgery the patient is brought to a post-anesthesia recovery suite. A patch is placed over the operative eye to prevent the patient from bumping or rubbing the operative eye. The day after surgery the patient returns to the office for a postoperative one day appointment. At this time a postoperative eye drop regimen is started that includes antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops. For most people, the eye drop regimen is completed after approximately three to five weeks following surgery.
Patients are seen for additional postoperative visits as indicated, typically including one week and one month after surgery. Approximately four weeks after surgery it is usually appropriate for the patient to return to his or her optometrist to undergo a refraction and receive an up-dated glasses prescription to be worn when needed.