Cataract Surgery Procedure

How to Prepare

You will get more out of your appointment if you educate yourself prior to your visit. Cataract surgery has become a highly customized procedure and we want to meet your needs as much as possible. It helps us immensely when you have thought carefully about these needs in advance. Learn about your Cataract lens options.

Schedule an Appointment

Schedule an in-office appointment for a cataract evaluation; surgery will NOT occur on this day. This is a detailed and comprehensive in office examination where we take measurements of your eyes for surgery, perform a dilated examination, and select a customized treatment plan.

Your cataract evaluation at VisionFirst will include a comprehensive eye exam, diagnostic testing and medical history review. We will walk you through the procedure and make sure all your questions are answered. You and your doctor will decide on which artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is right for you. We only operate on one eye at a time. Before the surgery, you will begin administering prescription eye drops.

Please plan to bring the following items with you to your appointment:

  • Driver’s license or other photographic identification
  •  Current glasses or contact lens prescription. Contact lenses will need to be brought in a box or unopened package so we can determine the prescription.
  • Insurance information, including policy ID#, and any medical insurance cards
  • Primary insurance holder’s name and date-of-birth
  • All current medications

For the best possible evaluation we recommend the following:

  • Begin using over-the-counter preservative free tears 4x per day in both eyes 2 weeks prior to your appointment.
  • Begin using warm compresses 2-3x per day (15 minutes) in both eyes 2 weeks prior to your appointment.
  • Discontinue your soft contact lenses at least 2 weeks prior to your appointment.
  • For hard or rigid lenses, discontinue 3 weeks prior to your appointment and plan to have your measurements repeated prior to surgery.

Day of Surgery

Surgery is performed on one eye at a time, typically two weeks apart. You will be given detailed pre-operative instructions after meeting with our surgery scheduler as part of your in-office cataract appointment.

Please read these instructions carefully prior to surgery. 

  • Please note your arrival time at the hospital as well as the need to bring a driver with you to surgery and not eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • Plan to be at the surgery center for 3-6 hours for your procedure.
  •  Please fill your prescription eye drops prior to surgery.
  •  Please note that the prescription eye drops are sent electronically to the pharmacy you specify with refills available.
  •  Contact the pharmacy first if you need a refill.
  •  If you need to reschedule your surgery, please provide us with 24hours’ notice. If you have a fever of 100.4o or higher, please cancel and plan to reschedule your surgery.

The Surgery

The typical cataract surgery lasts 20 to 30 minutes and the entire process that day takes just a few hours. The entire procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home from the surgery center.

Chart Illustrating the Cataract Surgery Process

Your eye will be anesthetized and you will receive a mild sedative so you will stay relaxed and comfortable during your procedure, but you won’t be put to sleep. Our surgeons use minimally invasive state-of-the-art technology and micro-incision techniques (no-stitch). During this procedure, using an ultrasonic handpiece, the lens is removed from the eye and an IOL is folded, delivered through a small incision, unfolded and fixed into position once inside the eye. This is a minimally invasive technique conducted under local anesthesia; it involves no sutures, resulting in faster healing and fewer complications than conventional surgical methods.

View Video

After the Surgery

It is time to enjoy your newly restored vision! Your doctor will prescribe a personalized recovery schedule and specific instructions. You will be prescribed medications to put in your eye based on this schedule. You typically will return for a follow-up the next day, one week, three weeks and three months after surgery to make sure your eye is healing properly. If you’re interested in cataract surgery, call VisionFirst at (205) 949-2020 today. We perform cataract surgery in outpatient care centers in Trussville, Alabaster and Birmingham, AL.

Cataract Surgery Q&A

Is Cataract surgery a risk-free procedure?

No, there is no surgery that is 100% risk free. Cataract surgery is extremely advanced, highly effective, and most people are satisfied with their outcomes. However, there are risks and complications with cataract surgery just like any other surgical procedure. You should plan to have cataract surgery when you believe the benefit to you outweighs the risks of surgery.

What are the risks of Cataract surgery?

Potential surgical risks include but are not limited to infection, bleeding, pain, prolonged inflammation, epithelial defect, recurrent corneal erosion, corneal edema, retinal edema, retinal detachment, dropped lens or lens fragment, rupture of the posterior capsule, need for more procedures or surgery, permanent vision loss, and very rarely loss of the eye. A complete list of potential complications will be covered in the informed consent you sign prior to surgery. It is important to understand that the risk of a serious complication with cataract surgery is low but is not zero. Surgery is challenging, unexpected situations can arise, and complications occur for all surgeons. If you are unable to accept the risks of cataract surgery, you should not have the procedure performed.

When should I expect to follow-up after my surgery?

You should expect to be evaluated the day after your cataract surgery in the office. This is an important exam that you should plan for. Your evaluation will be performed by your referring Optometrist, Dr. Hebson, or a skilled colleague (OD/MD). After your post-op day 1 appointment you will be evaluated again 1-3 weeks after surgery. Particularly close to the holidays it may be more difficult to have your follow-up appointment scheduled at a particular location or with a particular doctor.

If you are unable to be flexible regarding follow-up, please plan your surgery accordingly with our surgery scheduler.

Should I expect pain after Cataract surgery?

Your eye may feel irritated after cataract surgery, this is normal and typically improves over 12-24 hours. If you are uncomfortable, please take Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Pain medication is not provided after cataract surgery. Dry eye symptoms (burning, tearing, irritation, fluctuating vision) are common after cataract surgery and typically improve once you have completed the one month regimen of prescription eye drops. These drops are important but they can worsen dry eye symptoms. Consider adding preservative-free tears several times per day if you experience dry eye symptoms after cataract surgery.

Will the Cataract come back after my Cataract surgery?

Your cataract will not regrow after it is removed. However, due to the delicate nature of surgery it is impossible to remove every single lens cell. These cells can grow along the back of the lens implant creating a film that can cause symptoms similar to your original cataract (blurry vision, progressive, painless vision loss, increased nighttime glare). The term for this condition is posterior capsular opacification (PCO) which can be treated in the office with the use of a laser. PCO is not a surgical complication and is necessary in most cases several months to several years after cataract surgery.

How does my outlook or sense of wellbeing impact my surgical outcome?

Attitude impacts everything in life, including health. There are numerous studies that demonstrate that those who practice positive thinking and/or optimism are often more satisfied with their surgical procedure. The goal of cataract surgery is visual improvement, but cataract surgery is an elective procedure that may not meet all of your expectations or improve your happiness. Conditions such as anxiety and depression are increasingly common and are not a contraindication to cataract surgery.

However, there is increasing evidence that those with poorly controlled anxiety and/or depression are more likely to experience dissatisfaction, decreased immunity, and increased pain after surgery. Your sense of wellbeing is important and should be optimized prior to surgery when possible. If you have poorly controlled anxiety or depression, or if your current sense of wellbeing is poor, please consider temporarily postponing cataract surgery until the time is right for you.

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