At Riverside EyeCare Professionals, we utilize the latest advances in cataract surgery to safely and effectively remove cataracts. Our board-certified cataract surgeons, Dr. Michael Sumsion and Dr. Sean Sumsion, have made cataract surgery a special focus of their practice, and are committed to helping you restore your vision and lifestyle. During your initial consultation and eye evaluation, your ophthalmologist will discuss the procedure, explain all your options and answer any of your questions about cataract surgery.
What Is Cataract Surgery?
Cataracts are a common condition that typically develops with age and is characterized by a clouding of the eye’s lens. As a result, patients with cataracts most often experience blurry vision. Because cataracts are a progressive condition, cataracts that are left untreated may cause the vision to continue worsening. Although men and women of any age may develop cataracts, it is estimated that approximately half of all Americans over the age of 65 have cataracts.
Cataract surgery is designed to remove the clouded lens, replace it with an intraocular lens implant (IOL), and ultimately restore clear vision. Over two million cataract surgeries are performed in the United States every year, and the procedure has an extremely high success rate. Depending upon the quality of the patient’s eyesight, in addition to other factors, cataract surgery can be customized with various IOLs that are matched to suit the patient’s unique needs and lifestyle.
Cataract Surgery Overview
The procedure: Cataract surgery generally takes about 15-20 minutes per eye. During the procedure, the cataract will be carefully removed and an IOL will be inserted to replace the natural lens and improve vision. An anesthetic and possibly a mild sedative will also be used to alleviate any discomfort or anxieties.
Who will perform the surgery?: Drs. Michael Sumsion and Sean Sumsion perform all cataract surgeries at our on-site surgical suite.
What about recovery?: Recovery is typically minimal. You will need to return to our office periodically for postoperative visits, but many patients are able to return to their daily routines about one to two days following cataract surgery.
Results: Cataract surgery can greatly improve the clarity of your vision and help restore your lifestyle. You can expect to experience a noticeable improvement in vision in the days following your surgery.
What Types of Cataract Surgery Are There?
There are two general types of cataract surgery: traditional cataract surgery and laser cataract surgery. Traditional cataract surgery is generally considered one of the most routine surgeries performed around the world. During traditional cataract surgery, eye surgeons use a thin, specialized blade to create a precise incision and an ultrasonic instrument to break up the clouded lens. Laser cataract surgery, on the other hand, utilizes laser technology instead of surgical tools to create incisions and break up the cataract. While some practices may emphasize that laser techniques offer greater precision and a more rapid recovery, our ophthalmologists have not identified measurable benefits with laser methods, and therefore opt to perform traditional cataract surgery. Offering traditional cataract surgery also keeps costs lower for our patients.
Are There Any Cataract Treatments without Surgery?
Unfortunately, there are currently no effective non-surgical treatments for cataracts. Surgical removal of the clouded lens and replacement with an intraocular lens is the only reliable method available.
How Do I Prepare for Cataract Surgery?
Following your consultation, our ophthalmologists will provide you with comprehensive pre-op instructions on how to prepare for your cataract surgery. General speaking, here are some important points to remember:
- There are certain medications that should not be taken before surgery. Your ophthalmologist will identify these medicines and instruct you on how far in advance to stop, if necessary.
- Prior to your day of surgery, you will be scheduled to come in for ultrasound testing, which determines accurate measurements of your eye.
- You will be provided antibiotic eye drops to begin using a day or two before surgery to help prevent infection. Do not forget to take these.
- Our ophthalmologists typically recommend that you refrain from eating or drinking anything prior to your surgery, usually up to 12 hours in advance, if possible.
- You will require a ride home after surgery, so make sure you have a friend or family member available to pick you up.
If you have questions before your surgery date, we encourage you to contact our practice to get the information you need. We are always happy to take your call.
What Can I Expect During the Cataract Surgery Procedure?
Cataract surgery is typically performed in our surgery center as an outpatient procedure. Prior to surgery, your surgeon will apply a topical anesthetic to your eyes in order to alleviate any discomfort. Additionally, he can also provide a mild sedative to put you at ease and relieve any anxieties you may be feeling. During surgery, a small incision will be made in the front of your eye. Your surgeon will use special instruments to carefully remove the cataract and the eye’s natural lens. He will then place an intraocular lens implant (IOL) in your eye to replace your natural lens.
Due to the small size of the incision, the natural pressure of your eye will typically ensure that it seals without the need for any sutures.
Cataract surgery is performed one eye at a time. The other eye will generally be treated about two weeks later to ensure the first eye has had ample time to heal. The actual procedure can generally be completed in about 15-20 minutes, and most patients experience little to no discomfort throughout the entire operation.
What Are My Cataract Surgery Lens Options?
Intraocular lens implants replace the natural lens of your eye and are designed to restore your vision after cataract removal. The degree of vision correction you achieve may vary depending on the type of IOL selected:
- Monofocal Lenses – These traditional lenses correct only for long distance vision.
- Multifocal Lenses – These advanced lenses can improve vision at any distance (TECNIS® Multifocal & Crystalens®).
- Toric Lenses – These lenses correct for astigmatism.
- TECNIS® Symfony Extended Range of Vision IOL – This state-of-the-art option combines the visual clarity of a monofocal lens with the extended range of a multifocal lens. Vision adjusts smoothly between distances for continuous quality vision.
Learn more about the variety of intraocular lenses we offer. During a consultation with either Dr. Michael Sumsion or Dr. Sean Sumsion, you can learn about the IOL options that may be right for you.
What Are the Side Effects of Cataract Surgery?
Temporary redness and irritation are common after cataract surgery. In some cases, minor bleeding or infection may occur. Some patients may notice mild bruising on the skin beneath the eye. While the eye heals from the procedure, patients may also experience blurriness. All of these side effects usually resolve quickly, and a post-operative visit will help ensure the healing process is going well.
What Can I Expect During Cataract Surgery Recovery?
Recovery will vary per individual, but patients are able to return home the same day following their procedures. You can expect to return to normal activities after about one to two days, but our surgeons typically recommend that you wear protective eyewear at night and utilize prescription eye drops in the days immediately following your surgery to aid in the healing process. Additionally, postoperative visits will be necessary to assess your healing progress. Your surgeon will provide a postoperative schedule with you at the time of your surgery.
Are There Potential Cataract Surgery Complications?
Cataract surgery is a very common procedure that helps millions of men and women in the United States improve their vision and quality of life each year. Though extremely rare, there are potential risks of cataract surgery, which include infection, inflammation, bleeding, retinal disorders, glaucoma, secondary cataract, and vision loss. If you choose Riverside EyeCare Professionals you can be assured that your surgeon will perform a comprehensive eye exam to detect any risk factors before surgery and abide by all safety protocols during surgery to reduce the likelihood of complications. Furthermore, if any of these complications do arise, many of them can be effectively managed or resolved with further treatment.
What Kind of Results Can I Expect After Cataract Surgery?
While some patients are able to see very well the day after surgery, vision typically starts improving within a few days following surgery. Vision generally starts off blurry and gradually improves as your eye heals and acclimates to its new lens. Once both eyes have been treated and you are healed completely, your surgeon can thoroughly assess the quality of your vision and make any required adjustments to your vision prescription. In many cases, cataract removal and the addition of an advanced multifocal IOL that is well suited to one’s vision needs can significantly reduce reliance on glasses. Occasional use of reading glasses may be necessary, but not all patients require them.
What is Posterior Capsular Opacity?
Posterior capsular opacity is a condition that can create visual distortions, such as glare, blur, and haziness after cataract surgery. For some individuals, this condition arises soon after cataract surgery, while others experience its effects years later. For patients who develop posterior capsular opacity and want to restore clearer vision, our cataract surgeons can perform a relatively quick, outpatient procedure called a posterior capsulotomy with a YAG laser. During the procedure, the surgeon uses the YAG laser to make a small incision that allows light to pass through the lens to the back of the eye to eliminate blurriness. The procedure is typically described as virtually painless, and most patients are able to return to their usual activities within 24 hours.
How Long Do Cataract Surgery Lenses Last?
Intraocular Lenses (IOLs) implanted during your cataract surgery are expected to last for your lifetime. It is very rare that an IOL needs to be replaced; however, in some instances, a patient may want to upgrade their conventional IOL to a more premium multifocal IOL that offers enhanced vision at multiple distances.
How Much Does Cataract Surgery Cost?
Since each cataract surgery is customized to meet the patient’s individual needs, there is no one set price for cataract surgery. Factors that can influence the cost of cataract surgery may include:
- Type of IOL
- Number of eyes requiring treatment
- Facility fees
- Any post-operative medications
At the conclusion of your initial consultation, your surgeon will be able to provide you with an accurate quote for your cataract surgery. Since cataracts can lead to blindness when not treated, the condition is covered by many insurance plans. Patients with insurance coverage may still be responsible for a co-payment or a deductible. A member of our staff can help you navigate your insurance benefits and help determine your out-of-pocket cost for the procedure. In addition, qualifying patients can take advantage of the various financing options available at Riverside EyeCare Professionals.
Additional Cataract Surgery FAQs
Do you have questions about cataracts and cataract surgery? Our surgeons have a proven track record of success and can provide you with the information you need to proceed confidently toward improved, cataract-free vision. In the sections below, we have provided many of the most common questions our patients ask to help you gain a better understanding of the procedure. If you are interested in learning more about cataract surgery, we encourage you to contact our practice to schedule a consultation.
Is cataract surgery painful?Cataract surgery is designed to be a virtually painless procedure. Local anesthetic numbs the eye prior to the start of surgery to prevent any uncomfortable sensations. A mild sedative may also be provided to you before the procedure begins to relax you and eliminate any anxiety you may have about surgery.
Will I experience blurry vision after cataract surgery?Vision typically takes a few days to improve following surgery. Your vision may be blurry as your eye heals and adjusts to the new lens. If you are concerned about an extended period of blurry vision, it is a good idea to contact your ophthalmologist for a check on your progress.
Is cataract surgery safe?When cataract surgery is performed by a skilled and experienced board-certified ophthalmologist, the risk of side effects or complications are incredibly low. Cataract surgery is a very routine procedure, and if you follow all of your pre-op and post-op instructions closely, you will give yourself the best chance for a successful outcome.
Will I have “floaters” after cataract surgery?Vitreous floaters, often just called “floaters,” are located in a posterior cavity of the eye. Since cataract surgery is designed to replace the lens of the eye, the procedure will not treat or reduce the appearance of floaters. Some patients may find floaters more prevalent after cataract surgery due to their dramatic improvement in overall vision clarity. For most patients, floaters are small in size and only noticeable in certain lighting conditions; however, patients who have their vision significantly impacted by the presence of large floaters can undergo laser vitreolysis to further improve their vision.
Is there an age limit for cataract surgery?As long as you are in good health and do not have any other serious eye diseases or conditions, you are likely to be a good candidate for cataract surgery. There is no age limit for cataract surgery and the procedure can be performed as long as it can be deemed safe by our surgeons.
Do I need approval from my physician before I can have surgery?When you come to Riverside EyeCare Professionals, your ophthalmologist will perform a comprehensive eye exam and review your medical history to determine if cataract surgery is the best option for improving your vision. If there are questions about your overall health that could complicate surgery, your cataract surgeon may require appropriate medical clearance from your primary care physician.
Do I need retinal clearance for cataract surgery if I have pre-existing eye diseases?In some cases, patients with retinal conditions that can complicate cataract surgery may require clearance from a specialist. Diabetic macular edema, retinal vein occlusion, peripheral retinal lesions, uveitis, and epiretinal membrane formation can potentially impact the outcome of cataract surgery. A retinal specialist will be uniquely qualified to closely inspect the retinal tissue for disease, determine the degree of disease, and perform treatments that can improve the patient’s candidacy status for cataract surgery. If or when patients are clear for surgery, the specialist will provide approval for our eye surgeons to perform cataract surgery.
Does Medicare cover cataract surgery?Cataract surgery is typically classified as medically necessary since the condition can lead to blindness when left untreated. As a result, most insurance providers and Medicare cover at least a portion of the cost for cataract surgery. Patients using Medicare may be required to meet a deductible or make a copayment. For patients needing additional financial assistance, a member of our staff can review our financing options, which can provide low to no interest loans with low monthly payments.
How do I know which intraocular lens (IOL) is right for me?There may be a few options to consider when deciding which IOL is best for restoring your vision during cataract surgery. Our surgeons offer both monofocal lenses and multifocal lenses, including the TECNIS® Multifocal Lens and Crystalens®, to meet your vision needs. While monofocal lenses are typically less costly, multifocal IOLs can deliver advanced correction that can improve vision at all distances. During your consultation, your surgeon will perform a comprehensive eye examination and guide you toward the IOL that is best suited for you.
Will I have to wear my glasses after I have cataract surgery?In most cases, patients are able to reduce their reliance on prescription glasses to see more clearly after cataract surgery. The degree and range of vision improvement generally depends upon the patient’s vision correction needs prior to surgery and the type of IOL that is implanted during the procedure. Multifocal IOLs typically deliver the highest level of vision correction, allowing patients to see better at all distances. Patients who receive monofocal IOLs are more likely to need glasses for near and intermediate distances.
Will I have problems driving after cataract surgery?The day of your cataract surgery, your surgeon recommends arranging for a loved one to drive you home. As the eye heals, you may experience irritation, discomfort, or mild blurriness that would make it difficult to drive. Prescription eye drops may help alleviate these symptoms until the healing process is complete. After the eyes are completely healed, patients should see much better than before, and their vision on the road should be significantly improved both during the day and at night.
How long can cataract surgery be postponed?Our ophthalmologists recommend following through with cataract surgery as soon as possible to prevent your condition from worsening. The longer you wait, the more difficult your cataracts may become to remove. Cataracts that have had the opportunity to mature can pose more challenges during the removal process and the surgery can take on a greater risk of complications. Additionally, day-to-day life can become increasingly hazardous and difficult to manage as your vision continues to deteriorate.
Are there any restrictions after cataract surgery?Our ophthalmologists provide these guidelines for patients to follow after cataract surgery:
- Following cataract surgery, you must have a ride home as driving is unsafe within the first 24 hours. Your surgeon will clear you to drive after checking your progress during a follow-up appointment.
- Do not operate machinery for at least 24 hours following surgery.
- Take a few days off from work so that you can rest.
- You should sleep and shower with a protective covering over the eye for at least a week to prevent damage.
- Air travel should be approved by your doctor.
- Avoid touching and rubbing your eyes.
- Sunglasses should also be worn to block bright light from irritating the eye.
- Rest is recommended for the first few days. In the weeks following surgery, you should avoid heavy lifting and limit strenuous activity in favor of low-impact activities and periods of rest.
- Swimming is typically restricted for several weeks, until the eye has completely healed. Ask your doctor when it is safe to return to swimming and other water sports.
- Do not make critical decisions or sign legal documents for at least 24 hours following surgery.
What causes cloudiness in the eye after cataract surgery?A condition called posterior capsular opacity can develop after cataract surgery, causing vision to become cloudy or hazy. Visual impairment is due to a buildup of cloudy cells at the back of the lens capsule. Thankfully, our ophthalmologists can perform a relatively simple and virtually painless procedure called a posterior capsulotomy using a YAG laser, which restores clear vision. The treatment takes just several minutes to complete and results are generally very reliable.
How long will I need to use eye drops after cataract surgery?Prescription eye drops must be used as recommended by your ophthalmologist. Generally, eye drops are taken for a couple weeks following your procedure. Your eye drops should provide additional comfort during recovery and prevent infection.
Is there swelling after cataract surgery, and if so, how long does it last?Some swelling after cataract surgery is normal and should resolve within a few days; however, in some cases it may take a couple of weeks. If you experience prolonged swelling, we suggest coming in to see your ophthalmologist to make sure you are not experiencing any serious complications.