Is cataract surgery painful?
No one should delay their decision to have cataract surgery due to concerns that the procedure will be painful. Quite the contrary, there is little or no discomfort during cataract surgery for most people. On the day of your surgery, you will most likely be given a mild sedative to help you relax and then numbing eye drops will be applied to your eye to prevent discomfort.
To eliminate the risks associated with general anesthesia (where you are put to sleep), you will be given medications before and during surgery to insure you won’t feel any pain. You will be awake during the short procedure, enabling your surgeon to communicate with you to ensure you remain comfortable. Your cataract surgeon may ask you how you are feeling throughout the surgery even though you probably won’t remember much of anything due to the medications administered before and during the process.
As the medications wear off after the procedure, you could feel some slight eye discomfort. It is usually mild and can be managed with short-term use of over-the-counter pain medication. You will be given instructions on handling post-surgical discomfort before you leave the surgery center.
What are the disadvantages of cataract surgery?
It is important to know that cataract surgery complications are few, and cataract surgery is among the most common and most successful surgical procedures performed today. According to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), 3 million Americans undergo cataract surgery each year, with an overall success rate of 98 percent or higher. Also, a study of more than 200,000 Medicare beneficiaries who underwent cataract surgery between 1994 and 2006 found that 99.5 percent of patients had no severe postoperative complications and the risk of severe complications has decreased with advances in surgical tools and techniques. Nevertheless, there are potential cataract surgery complications and risks, which include:
- Posterior capsule opacity (PCO)
- Intraocular lens dislocation
- Eye inflammation
- Eye infection or bleeding
- Light sensitivity
- Photopsia (perceived flashes of light)
- Macular edema (swelling of the central retina)
- Retinal detachment
- Loss of vision
- Ptosis (droopy eyelid)
- Ocular hypertension (elevated eye pressure)
Your cataract surgery risk is greater if you have another eye disease or a serious medical condition. Rarely, cataract surgery fails to improve vision because of underlying eye damage from other conditions, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. If possible, it may be beneficial to evaluate and treat other eye problems before making the decision to have cataract surgery.
Most cataract surgery complications are minor and can be successfully treated medically or with additional surgery. If possible complications or surgery risks are of concern, you should discuss them with your eye doctor before having surgery.
What are the benefits of cataract surgery?
Cataract surgery successfully restores vision in the majority of people who have the procedure. Colors will once again appear sharper than when the cataracts dulled their distinct hues and your ability to see at night will greatly improve. The greatest benefits of cataract surgery, for most people though, is the restored and improved quality of life, being able to read, watch TV, use a computer, sew, cook, do yard work, and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you everyday.
Doctors now believe that having cataract surgery may even reduce the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly as well as reducing the risk of falls and hip fractures.