Q. Do I really need surgery for my cataracts?
There are several deciding factors, but ultimately the decision is yours. Most cataracts develop slowly over time and affect people over age 50. Mild cataracts often cause little or no vision problems. Some cataracts never reach the stage where they need to be removed. However, if your cataract worsens and starts affecting your regular lifestyle, such as driving or daily activities, it’s probably time to consider surgery. There is no alternative treatment for significant cataracts.
Q. Is cataract surgery safe?
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed type of surgery in the US today. As with any surgery, pain, infection, swelling and bleeding are possible, but very few people experience serious cataract surgery complications. In the vast majority of cases, side effects from surgery can be easily managed with medication. To reduce the risk of postoperative problems, follow the instructions given to you by your surgeon, and report any unusual symptoms right away. Choosing an experienced surgeon like Dr. Spector, who has performed thousands of procedures, will reduce the risk of your surgery.
Q. Does it hurt?
There is normally little or no discomfort during cataract surgery. Throughout the day of the procedure, you’ll receive anesthetic drops to numb your eye, as well as some medications to keep you comfortable. As your medications wear off after surgery, you may feel some minor discomfort that can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication.
Q. How long does the procedure take?
Normally, your surgery will take about two hours from arrival to discharge. The procedure itself can take as little as ten minutes.
Q. Can I have both eyes done at the same time?
Typically, no. If you have cataracts in both eyes, surgery is usually performed on one eye at a time, with a few days or weeks between. This wait time allows the first eye to recover and your vision to stabilize.
Q. What is recovery like?
Recovery from cataract surgery is normally easy and quick. You will not be able to drive home from the procedure, and you’ll be given a pair of sunglasses to shield your eyes from bright light and glare. You’ll also have a protective shield for your eye, which remains in place for several hours after surgery, and must be used during the night and any naps for several days.
Your vision might be cloudy or distorted when you first remove the eye shield, as it can take a short adjustment period for your eye to adapt to the new lens. You might also experience some general redness in the eye, which dissipates over the next few days as your eye heals. Most patients report clear vision within hours after removing the shield, but everyone heals at their own pace. You should not experience any significant discomfort that can’t be managed with pain medication. Your eye should be completely healed in about a month.
Q. Is it covered by insurance?
Medicare generally considers cataracts a medically necessary procedure and does cover it. To determine if your surgery is medically necessary, several in-office tests will be performed to assess your visual acuity. If you opt to include premium services, such as the use of the femtosecond laser or the implantation of premium IOL lenses, there will be additional costs that may not be covered by your insurance carrier. During your pre-op exam and consultation, any costs will be explained. Financing is available at Spector Eye Care.