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What to Expect from Cataract Surgery

The Cataract Surgical Procedure

What You’ll Experience

Cataract surgery is the only way to correct cataracts. The procedure involves the removal of the natural lens in your eye, which the cataract has made cloudy. Your lens is then replaced by a new one, known as an intraocular lens (IOL). It’s an outpatient procedure. The whole process usually lasts less than 30 minutes.

Typically, cataract surgery lasts between 15 and 30 minutes.

Each eye surgeon’s procedure may vary slightly, but generally you can expect your surgeon to take the following steps:

  • Apply a topical anesthetic to numb your eye.
  • Make a small incision in the cornea with either a handheld blade or with
    a laser
    . A small probe then breaks up and removes your cataract, and
    your new lens is inserted. In most cases, no stitches are required because the incision is so small.
  • Protect your eye with a bandage or patch, which can typically be
    removed within a few hours.

Recovering from Cataract Surgery

Recovery from the procedure is usually very rapid, with most patients resuming normal activities within 24 hours. After surgery, your surgeon will probably talk
to you about:

  • Any medications he or she may prescribe you
  • Instructions for how to care for your eye
  • A follow-up meeting the next day

Most surgeons suggest that you don’t drive for 24 hours after surgery. A
stinging or gritty feeling is normal; avoid rubbing or putting pressure on your eyes. Reading, walking, watching TV or other light activities are okay as soon
as you get home, but you should avoid strenuous activity, like heavy lifting, for
at least a week.

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