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What's It Like: To get cataract surgery

There are two types of cataract surgery: phacoemulsification and extracapsular surgery.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: September 9, 2012

A: It shouldn't hurt during the procedure or afterward. You might feel some itching or mild discomfort. Fluid discharge is common as well. You should talk with your doctor about how to best care for your eye after the surgery.

Q: What's the risk?

A: There are the general risk factors that are associated with any surgery, such as bleeding and infection.

In rare instances, the lens might not come out completely and could take a second procedure. Another rare occurrence is for a patient to suffer a detached retina.

Symptoms of retinal detachment include seeing specks that float about your field of vision. Although a retinal detachment doesn't cause pain, it is an emergency. You should contact your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms of a retinal detachment.

Q: What's the recovery time?

A: Your doctor might recommend you take at least one day off work. Sometimes, you can return to work or your usual routine within two days of your surgery.

Generally, you will heal within eight weeks. The bigger the incisions made during your procedure, the longer your recovery time could be. The time it takes for you to notice results will depend on the severity of the cataracts.

Q: Any follow-ups?

A: After surgery, your doctor will want to check on how you're recovering. This might mean checkup appointments at various time intervals.

The lens, if placed properly, is good for life, and the new lens generally doesn't get clouded.

In rare instances, a patient has had to have a lens replaced because it was removed from a trauma event, such as an air bag during a car accident.

Source: Dr. Ralph Hester of Dean McGee Eye Institute; The National Eye Institute; The Mayo Clinic.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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