What to ask your doctor before your cataract surgery?

Upon attending your cataract evaluation and consultation with your cataract surgeon, consider the following questions as some of those you might like to have answered at your visit. Make sure you ask all of the questions that are on your mind and that you receive satisfactory answers to those questions.

  • When should I have my cataracts removed?  
  • Are my cataracts the only cause of my poor vision?  
  • How much experience do you have with cataract surgery?  
  • Do I have any other eye problems that might jeopardize the results?  
  • Do I have any other health problems that might cause complications?  
  • Can you use a lens Implant to correct my vision?  
  • What type of cataract surgery procedure will you use?  
  • Is there any overnight stay necessary for cataract surgery?  
  • Is there a risk of worse vision or going blind after cataract surgery?  
  • How well do you think I should be able to see after cataract surgery?  
  • How long will my eye take to heal?  
  • When will I achieve my best overall vision?  
  • Will I need eyeglasses, contact lenses or reading glasses after cataract surgery?  
  • How soon after my surgery can I have my final eyeglass prescription?  
  • When will I see well enough to go back to work, drive and resume my daily activities?


Common questions and FAQs about cataracts & cataract surgery

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens inside the eye.

Who can get a cataract?

Anyone can get a cataract.  Cataracts occur most often in people over 55 years old, and even more in people over 65+ and cataracts affect some 60% of people over 75. Adults may also develop cataracts as a side effect of certain medications such as steroids used to treat asthma or as a result of systemic diseases such as diabetes. Pediatric cataracts, which are typically congenital, are unusual but may occur for a number of reasons related to the mother’s health during pregnancy.

When should I have my cataract removed?

Once a cataract has formed it can progress at different rates or not at all and remain stable. The position of a cataract in the crystalline lens can also determine how seriously it affects your vision. So, depending on the progression and the position, a cataract can cause varying degrees of vision change for each individual person. The amount of vision change and how much it affects your ability to conduct your everyday activities, as well as your safety, determines when you should have cataract surgery. The decision to have cataract surgery is made by you discussing, if and how much your lifestyle is being hampered, with your cataract surgeon. Together you can decide on the best time for cataract surgery.

Can my cataract be removed with a laser?

At this point in time cataracts are not typically removed with a laser. Modern cataract surgery is performed using a technique called phacoemulsification whereby the cloudy crystalline lens is “chopped up” and suctioned with a microscopic ultrasonic instrument through a tiny incision. Several companies have developed specialized lasers for performing several steps in the cataract surgery procedure so that a procedure called Femtosecond Laser Assisted cataract surgery may emerge in the future as an important technological advance. However, for now, what is called laser cataract surgery refers to the fact that sometimes, the membrane-called the lens capsule-that is left in place to support the placement of the intraocular lens implant (IOL) to correct your vision may become cloudy. In this case a laser is in fact used to create an opening in the membrane so that you can have clear vision. This is called a YAG laser capsulotomy which is a quick painless procedure.

Will I need glasses after cataract surgery?

Vision correction after cataract surgery is achieved through the implantation of a permanent artificial lens implant. By selecting from a number of different types of lens implants, your cataract surgeon can help you achieve your personal goals. If you have astigmatism he or she may select an astigmatism correcting lens implant so that you may be able to reduce or possibly eliminate glasses to see clearly at distance. If you wish to be able to read or see clearly at far as well, he or she may select a presbyopia correcting lens implant. If being free of glasses after cataract surgery is important to you, discuss this with your cataract surgeon. 

When can I do my regular activities after cataract surgery?

In the vast majority of instances, patients having cataract surgery are able to resume their normal everyday activities within a day or a couple of days after their surgery.

How much should I expect the cost of cataract surgery to be?

Most private insurance as well as Medicare cover the cost of cataract surgery including the cataract surgeon’s fee, the fee for the use of the surgery facility-or “facility fee”, the cost of a basic monofocal lens implant and the necessary follow up care that you will need within 3 months or so after your surgery. They do not cover deductibles, co-payments or the cost of many of the advanced technology lens implants used to correct astigmatism or near vision after cataract surgery.

Is cataract surgery risky?

All types of surgery have risks. Fortunately the risk and complication of cataract surgery are extremely low. In addition to being one of the most successful and surgeries performed in the United States today, cataract surgery has also become the most frequently performed surgery in the U.S.  During your cataract surgery consultation, your cataract surgeon and/or their staff will be available to review the possible risks and complications and answer your questions.

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