So you’ve decided to get cataract surgery. Congratulations on taking a very necessary step toward preventing the deterioration of your vision. Cataracts are extremely common in aging individuals. By age 80, more than half of all Americans have had a cataract or have cataract surgery - so you’re certainly not alone in your experience.
However, in order to ensure the operation is as effective as possible possible, there are some steps you should take before your surgery.
- Get an Ultrasound: About a week or so before your cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will order a painless ultrasound test - this measures the size and shape of your eye, which will help us determine what type of lens implant is right for you, be it a standard lens, intraocular lens, or otherwise.
- Prepare to Recover: In most cases, you’ll be able to go home the same day as your cataract surgery - so it’s important that you’re ready to recover before you leave for your procedure. Since you won’t be able to drive home afterwards, arrange for a friend or loved one to drive you home. You’ll also have to avoid lifting heavy objects and other strenuous activities for about a week after the operation, so in the weeks prior, make arrangements so that any tasks you won’t be able to complete during recovery will be handled.
- Cease (Some) Medications: You may be asked to hold or reduce some of your medication before surgery. This is to make sure that you and your eyes are as safe as possible for surgery. Many surgeries require stopping blood thinning medications, but regular cataract surgery usually causes no significant bleeding, and you may be asked to continue your medically necessary blood thinners. This is why disclosing with us which medications you take is so important!
- Use Eye Drops: By using eyedrops, you’ll provide your eyes with medications needed to reduce your risk of infection and inflammation. There will be several medications needed after surgery, but prior to your operation, your doctor may prescribe some anti-inflammatory eye drops as well.
- Fast: If you’re having cataract surgery, your doctor will recommend not eating or drinking anything in the 8 hours prior to your procedure. Be sure not to eat or drink anything on the day of surgery without explicit instructions, or you may have to reschedule your surgery This includes gum, tic tacs, and breath mints! Also, in the 24 hours before your operation, don’t drink alcoholic beverages.
- Shower or Bathe: A clean surgical environment is essential to a successful surgery free of complications and infections - you can help us out by showering or bathing and washing your hair prior to your operation.
- Ask Questions!: Your eye doctor is there to help, not confuse you. If you have any questions whatsoever about preparing for cataract surgery, the surgery itself, or recovery, don’t hesitate to ask. Chances are your doctor has had dozens of patients with the exact same concern.
Cataract surgery can be a challenging experience for some, especially for those who have never had a surgical procedure. But with adequate preparation and by sharing your concerns with us, you can enter the operating room with as little stress and apprehension as possible - and ensure a safe, effective surgery that’ll help you see clearly for years to come.
Everett & Hurite Ophthalmic Association is a Pittsburgh-based eye doctor with offices in Uptown, Butler, Cranberry Township, Greensburg, and beyond! If you suspect you have cataracts or any other eye issue, click here to make an appointment.