Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure which means that it is not necessary to stay overnight at the clinic or a hospital because there are minimal risks involved. The surgery is actually a two-part process. The cataract (cloudy natural lens) must first be removed, and then the intraocular lens (IOL) will be put in its place. The entire procedure will take approximately 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the state of the cataract.
Immediately before your surgery
- Twenty minutes before the surgery, your eyes are prepared with antibiotic and anesthetic eye drops
- Before entering the operating room, you will have another discussion with your surgeon about your treatment, the operation, and to answer any questions you may have. During the surgery
- Once inside the sterile operating room, the surgical team disinfects the area around the eyes. A speculum is applied to keep the eye open during the surgery. Additional topical or local anesthesia is applied to minimize any discomfort during the procedure. During the surgery, there may be a sensation of slight pressure, but no pain.
- The surgeon will make a small (3 to 3.5mm) incision in the cornea, the outer surface of the eye. This incision is self-sealing and does not require any sutures. The phaco probe will then be inserted, and will use ultrasound energy to break up the cataract. The pieces of the cataract will then be removed.
- Next the IOL will be inserted where the cataract once was. Once inside the eye and in the proper position, the IOL will naturally unfold and the surgeon will direct its placement.
- Immediately after the surgery, the eye is covered with a plastic eye shield, which is held in place by adhesive tape and has perforations for the patient to see through. The purpose of the eye shield is to prevent inadvertent rubbing or scratching of the eye. The patient can then return home. The eye shield is left on until the patient comes back to TRSC on the next day to have it removed.
Please see the section After cataract surgery to read about guidelines for the first night after surgery.