FAQs About Cataract Surgery

Patients undergoing cataract surgery often have questions about the procedure and what will happen afterwards. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai (NYEE) answers a few commonly asked questions about what to expect.

Do You Operate on Both Eyes at the Same Time?
Patients who need cataract surgery in both eyes will have two separate surgeries, as close as two weeks apart.  Your vision will fluctuate after surgery, and once both eyes have surgery, your doctor will determine the need for glasses.

Will I Be Awake During the Procedure?
Most cataract surgeries are performed under topical anesthesia (eye drops). Many patients will also be given a sedative and/or anti-anxiety medicine during the procedure. Occasionally, a patient will receive a novocaine-like medication injected under the eye to relax the eye muscles and numb the nerves for pain. General anesthesia is uncommon but can be used if you feel you would be uncomfortable during the procedure, have a difficult time remaining still, or have intense anxiety.

How Long Does It Take the Eye to Heal After Cataract Surgery?
You should expect the healing process to take approximately 4-8 weeks.

What Are the Risks and Complications of Cataract Surgery?
Complications after cataract surgery are rare, but they can occur, as with any surgery, including but not limited to:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Inflammation
  • Need for additional surgery
  • Elevated intraocular pressure

Should you experience pain, redness, or change in vision at any time after surgery, you must call your doctor immediately or go to our emergency room.

These problems can usually be treated successfully with prompt medical attention. NYEE is particularly well equipped to deal with any complications thanks to a full complement of ophthalmic specialists who are routinely present in its operating suites. We are widely known, for example, for our expertise in treating pseudoexfoliation syndrome (PXF). PXF is an age-related problem that targets mainly ocular tissues through the gradual deposit of white flaky material on the lens capsule and other eye structures. This condition can pose unique obstacles for cataract surgery, including zonular weakness (weakness in the scaffolding that holds the cataract lens) and poor pupillary dilation.

How Do I Care For an IOL?
An IOL is a permanent replacement for your natural lens. After it has been placed inside your eye during surgery, it requires no care. You cannot feel or see it, and it is not noticed by others. Today, almost all patients having cataract surgery safely choose an IOL as part of the procedure.

Will I Still Need Glasses or Contacts After My Cataract Surgery?
Each case is unique. While cataract removal will greatly restore your vision, some patients may still require prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. At NYEE, our cataract specialists develop customized treatment plans that help reduce the need for glasses after cataract procedures.

It is important for you to discuss your visual needs during the pre-op eye exam and cataract surgery consultation with your ophthalmologist to ensure the treatment plan fits your needs.