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Cataract Surgery

A cataract is simply a build-up of protein inside the crystalline lens in your eye ultimately blurring your vision.

There is no prevention for cataracts and the only treatment is surgery. We must replace the lens with an artificial lens made of acrylic or silicone, materials that are inert and do not cause any allergic reaction by the human body. Cataract surgery is simply a lens replacement surgery.

What to expect


Day of Surgery

When you arrive for your surgery, you will be called back to the pre-operative area. While there, you will have an IV started, your operative eye identified and marked above the brow, and numbing and dilating drops instilled. The nurse and CRNA (nurse anesthetist) will talk to you about your anesthesia and will determine the best anesthesia for you to make this a comfortable experience.

Types of Anesthesia for Cataract Surgery
  • IV sedation with numbing drops
  • Local block

There are 2 main types of anesthesia used for cataract surgery. Many patients receive an IV sedative to help them relax to accompany the anesthetic eye drops to numb the eye. You will be monitored throughout the procedure for changes in heart rate, oxygen level, and pain control.

Some patients require a little more anesthesia and they receive a regional block. A block is an injection of numbing medicine below the eye that blocks the pain and movement nerves to the eye. This is administered while you are put to sleep for a few minutes and works to eliminate eye and eyelid movement and all pain. There is a little more risk of damage to the eye with this type of anesthesia, but it is still very safe and effective.


Surgery Prep

When it is your turn to have surgery, you will be moved into the operating room and prepped for surgery in the typical fashion. The nurse in the operating room will clean your eye and eye lid with betadine (an alternative is available for those with an allergy to betadine). A large plastic and paper drape will be placed over your entire body exposing only your operative eye. A bar that delivers oxygen will be placed over your mouth holding the drape off of your face and providing you with plenty of oxygen.

During Surgery

During surgery, you will notice a bright light, cool water on the eye, and my hands resting on your forehead and cheek. A device is used to hold your eyelids open during surgery so you will be able to relax your eyelids. You should concentrate on not squeezing your eyelid shut as that can be painful.

A very small incision is made in the clear part of the eye called the cornea. Using an ultrasound device, your cataract is broken into small pieces and removed from your eye through the tiny incision. The clear artificial lens is then placed into your eye. The wound seals itself and does not require a stitch.

The surgery takes about 7-8 minutes. We will place a clear plastic shield over your eye that is to be kept in place until we see you for your post-operative visit. If you received a block, you will have white gauze under the shield to help keep the eye protected until your eye lid regains function and can close on it’s own.

You will be awake during the procedure,
but you may not remember much of the experience because of the sedation. There should be no pain during surgery, and you will receive the right amount of sedative to lessen your anxiety. Please let us know if you have any discomfort during surgery as we want you to be as comfortable as possible.


After Surgery

After surgery, your eye may feel a little scratchy and may tear. This is normal. Take your pain reliever of choice for any discomfort. If your pain persists and it is severe, you should call the doctor. You will have a post-op exam usually the same day as your surgery. At that appointment, your eye pressure will be checked, and the post-op instructions will be reviewed. Vision will recover at a different rate in everyone. Always bring your drops to your appointments.


Risks of Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is usually safe and very successful; however, it is not risk free. You have less than a 1% chance of having one of a multitude of possible complications during surgery or after surgery. I cannot mention all possible complications, but they include infection, swelling or detachment of the retina, iris trauma, persistent swelling of the cornea, among other less common problems that may occur. Most complications are mild and can be treated with additional therapy or surgery.  Even with a complication, vision after cataract surgery almost always is noticeably better than with the cataract.

If at any time throughout your cataract surgery process, preoperative and postoperative, that you have questions or concerns, please call the office at 806-351-1177. No question is silly, and no symptom is too small. My goal is for you to have a smooth surgical process and great results.

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