Overview of Cataract Surgery
Cataracts are a common and natural side effect of aging that can cause blurry, cloudy, dull, or otherwise diminished vision. Fortunately, cataract surgery can correct this problem and restore vision. At Bernitsky Vision in Albuquerque, we offer personalized cataract removal and corrective eye surgery with a variety of options to suit your budget, lifestyle, and vision needs.
Your Cataract Surgery Consultation
If you suspect you have a cataract, or if you have been diagnosed with cataracts and they are beginning to affect your vision or quality of life, then your next step should be to schedule a cataract surgery consultation with a local cataract surgeon. At Bernitsky Vision, our experienced cataract surgeon will perform a thorough eye examination. The surgeon will typically ask to dilate your eyes in order to better visualize the cataract and assess the overall health of your eyes. Specific measurements of your eye will be taken to help determine which type of replacement intraocular lens (IOL) will best suit you. Your surgeon will take the time to discuss all your vision correction options, including advanced IOLs which can provide an opportunity to reduce your dependence on glasses and contacts for both near and distance vision.
How Does Cataract Surgery Work?
Cataract surgery is the only way to remove a cataract and this outpatient procedure is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States. There are two main parts to cataract surgery:
- Cataract Removal Once your eyes have been numbed with anesthetic drops your surgeon will make a small incision in the cornea to access the natural lens. The clouded lens will then be removed using a process called phacoemulsification, which employs an ultrasonic probe to break the natural lens into small pieces that will be irrigated out.
- Lens Replacement Once the cataract affected natural lens has been removed, your cataract surgeon will place a biocompatible artificial intraocular lens (IOL) inside the capsule that held the natural lens.
What to Expect During Recovery from Cataract Surgery
You will return home the day of surgery and you will be scheduled to return for a follow-up appointment the next day. You may feel mild discomfort in the first few days after surgery, which can be managed with prescription eye drops and medication. Patients typically notice an improvement in vision the day after surgery. Detailed post-operative care instructions will be reviewed with you prior to surgery. Here are a few general guidelines:
- Plan for a friend or family member to drive you home after surgery
- Use eye drops, eye shields, and medications as directed
- Attend all follow-up visits at Bernitsky Vision
- Do not rub your eyes for two weeks after surgery
- Do not participate in strenuous exercise or activities that require heavy lifting for two weeks after surgery
- Avoid swimming and hot tubs for one month after surgery unless water-tight swim goggles are worn
The speed and quality of your recovery can be dependent on following all instructions and devoting time to resting after surgery. The amount of time you take off of work or your daily routine will depend on what type of job activities or hobbies you typically participate in. Your doctor will discuss specific recovery time recommendations with you prior to surgery.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cataract Surgery
How much does cataract surgery cost?
Cataract surgery at Bernitsky Vision is personalized for each patient and the cost will vary depending on which type of IOL you choose. Most medical insurance plans will cover a portion of the costs associated with cataract surgery. If you choose an advanced intraocular lens implant (IOL), these lenses are considered elective upgrades, and would not be covered by insurance.
Does Medicare pay for cataract surgery?
If your cataract surgery is deemed medically necessary, Medicare will typically cover traditional cataract surgery with a monofocal IOL. Advanced lens options will generally need to be paid for out of pocket.
Does cataract surgery hurt?
Patients typically report no pain during cataract surgery. Your cataract surgeon will use numbing eye drops to ensure your comfort during surgery.
Will I be awake during cataract surgery?
Yes, cataract surgery is a routine procedure that is typically takes about 15 minutes or less. Your eyes will be numbed with anesthetic eye drops and you may be offered an oral sedative such as valium to help you feel comfortable and relaxed. Being “put to sleep” with general anesthesia comes with potential for medical complications and is not necessary for cataract surgery.
Is cataract surgery performed on both eyes at once?
If you have cataracts in both eyes, your cataract surgeon will typically perform surgery on just one eye at first and then perform surgery on the other eye within a few weeks. This allows your surgeon to ensure you are recovering properly and gives your vision time to adjust.
Will my cataract come back?
No, but occasionally, a patient may experience blurry vision following cataract surgery and believe this is the cataract returning. This mild condition is called posterior capsular opacification (PCO), and is sometimes referred to as a “secondary cataract”. A simple in-office procedure called a YAG capsulotomy can correct this issue, and this treatment is typically covered by insurance.