Cataract FAQs

When may I shower/bathe

You may shower immediately after cataract surgery, but I would recommend not washing your hair or having water run over your face until the next day. Just make sure your eyes are shut as your eyelids provide a water-tight barrier. I would avoid pools, hot-tubs, lakes and other non-clean bodies of water for 1 week after surgery.

When can I wear eye makeup?

You may wear makeup immediately after surgery except for eye makeup. Avoid using eye makeup for 1 week after surgery. When removing eye makeup, I always recommend not using much pressure on the eyeball itself. Be gentle! Your eyes are precious.

Can I get my hair colored?

I have no restrictions on getting your hair cut, colored or washed professionally immediately after surgery. I ask that you wear your protective shield during the treatment and make sure water does not run over the face or into the eye.

Why don't you use a laser for cataract surgery?

Many great advancements in cataract surgery have come from ever-expanding technology. Lasers are used for many different treatments for ocular conditions. Laser cataract surgery, while fascinating and cutting-edge, has not shown to provide any significant benefit in the vast majority of cataract patients. There is a small subset of patients that might benefit minimally by having laser cataract surgery, but the incredible excess cost to the patient for the procedure and the increased time and effort to complete the procedure using a laser far outweigh the benefit. Many studies have shown that results from standard cataract surgery are just as good as results from laser cataract surgery. The bigger factor determining successful cataract surgery is your surgeon’s experience.

When can I travel via airplane?

Travel by airplane is safe immediately after surgery.

What are the restrictions for driving myself?

You must have a driver for the day of your surgery, but you are allowed to drive beginning the day after your surgery. Of course, everyone’s vision clears at different rates; therefore, I do not recommend you drive yourself until you feel you see well enough to do so safely.

How soon after cataract surgery will I be able to see?

Every patient will heal at different rates. The speed at which vision clears is dependent upon the density of the cataract, the health of the eye, other pre-existing conditions among many other variables. The typical healthy patient begins to see improvement within the first couple of days and the improvement continues for the first 3-4 weeks after surgery.

Do I need glasses after surgery? When can I get a new pair of glasses?

The main function of cataract surgery is to clear vision by removing the cloudy lens (cataract). With great advancements in our measurement devices and with our variety of lenses, many patients do not need glasses for distance vision. Unless you select a lens that specifically restores near vision, patients typically need reading glasses. If you do require glasses after surgery, allow your eyes to heal for 3-4 weeks prior to getting examined for new glasses or contacts. You may start using reading glasses immediately after cataract surgery. These can be found at most drug stores and big box stores. Readers are produced in different powers. The lower numbers (ie. +1.25) are used for computer distance vision while the higher numbers (ie. +2.75) are helpful for closer vision. I recommend patients start with a +2.00 reading lens and work from there.

What strength of reading glasses do I need?

You may start using reading glasses immediately after cataract surgery. These can be found at most drug stores and big box stores. Readers are produced in different powers. The lower numbers (ie. +1.25) are used for computer distance vision while the higher numbers (ie. +2.75) are helpful for closer vision. I recommend patients start with a +2.00 reading lens and work from there.

Will Dr. McCarty help me decide which lens to pick?

There’s never been a better time in history than now to need cataract surgery. Patients have the option to choose from a variety of different intra-ocular lenses (IOLs) to be used for their surgery. Each of these lenses are made with the best material and they all work very well. They differ in what they can offer to the patient. Some lenses correct astigmatism, some correct only distance vision, others provide the ability to see at far distance, computer distance, and reading distance. One lens is even adjustable after surgery to customize it specifically for the patient. Unfortunately, newer technologies also come with higher costs and insurance companies are not willing to cover the additional costs. Dr. McCarty will make sure you understand all of the benefits of the different lenses as well as their limitations, but the ultimate decision is left to the patient.

Will I be dilated for surgery?

You will definitely be dilated for cataract surgery. The dilation typically lasts about 3-4 hours but may last until the next day.

How many visits after surgery will I have? Will I be dilated at each visit?

The same day as your cataract surgery, you will have a post-operative visit so that we can check your eye pressure and review your instructions. Depending on whether you are having one or both eyes operated on, a final post-operative visit is scheduled 2-4 weeks after your last surgery. Typically, these visits are shorter in nature and no dilation is necessary.

Can my family/friends watch my cataract surgery?

Unfortunately, at this time, we do not allow viewing of surgeries at the surgery center. However, if you are interested in what cataract surgery looks like, there are many videos on the internet that you are free to watch.

Do I have to have both eyes done?

Cataracts typically grow in both eyes at about the same rate but not always. Surgery can be performed on one eye and not the other eye if the fellow eye sees well. There are a few situations where this is not advisable. The most typical situation where the second eye may need to be operated on even though the cataract is not as severe arises when the patient has a very strong prescription. With cataract surgery, a lens is placed in the eye after the cataract is removed and this lens can reduce the patients glasses prescription significantly. If this is done in one eye but not the other leaving a large difference in the prescription between the two eyes, this can cause difficulty with the eyes working together. In those instances, we sometimes need to perform cataract surgery in the fellow eye before it develops a severe loss of vision.

Can I have both eyes done at the same time?

Unfortunately, insurance companies do not pay for 2 procedures done on the same day; therefore, if you are having your cataract surgery paid for by insurance, we cannot do both eyes the same day. If you are not using insurance for cataract surgery, then we have the option of performing both surgeries on the same day.

Will rubbing my eyes hurt my eyes?

Regardless of whether you have cataract surgery or not, rubbing your eyes is never a good idea. I recommend using artificial tears should your eyes become irritated. A safe technique that accomplishes the same thing as rubbing your eyes would be to use a finger to pull the outside of your lid outward towards your ear and move it up and down. This maneuver causes your eyelid to rub up and down on your eye but with much less pressure than your finger.

Will I ever need to have cataract surgery again?

No. During cataract surgery, your entire lens is removed and a prosthetic lens is inserted in its place. Because of this, there is no natural lens remaining to develop into a cataract again. However, about 25% of patients can develop posterior capsule opacification (PCO) at some point after cataract surgery which creates symptoms very similar to cataracts. PCO is simply a film or scar tissue that develops behind the artificial lens on the capsule holding your lens in place. This film is easily treated using a laser in an office procedure. Like cataract surgery, this laser surgery after cataract surgery, if needed, is only performed once as this scar tissue will not return.

I am a very active person, when can I get back to the gym, golfing, sports?

Because cataract surgery can be performed through a very tiny incision, physical limitations are minimal. For the first 4-5 days after surgery, it is recommended that the patient refrains from any activity that causes significant straining. For some, that could be picking up a gallon of milk; for others, they may be fine lifting up to 50 pounds. Bending over to tie your shoes is perfectly safe. Walking, jogging, moderate exercise, and riding a bike are safe activities to participate in as well.