It is time to consider surgery for cataracts when your daily visual needs require it. Your decision should be based on
whether or not you can see to do your job, drive safely and engage in such activities as reading and watching TV in comfort. Can you see well enough to perform daily tasks such as cooking, shopping or taking medications without difficulty?
Cataracts do not need to be removed just because they are present and It is not true that cataracts need to be “ripe” before they can be removed. You and your doctor should decide together when surgery is appropriate based on your symptoms.
Now, when it does come time to remove cataracts, we understand that patients are anxious to get results quickly and painlessly, so we’ll answer some “how long” questions here.
How long does it take for cataracts to develop?
The rate of development can vary among individuals and may also be different between the two eyes. Most age-related cataracts can progress gradually over a period of years. It is not possible to predict exactly how fast cataracts will develop in any given person. Some cataract development, especially in younger people and people with diabetes, may progress rapidly over a short time. A comprehensive eye examination can reveal early signs of cataract development.
How long does cataract removal take?
Removing cataracts is regarded as outpatient surgery and generally takes between 15 and 30 minutes to perform depending on the severity of the cataracts. You should not feel any pain during the procedure as local anesthesia is given. Afterwards, little if any pain is experienced.
It is wise to plan to be at the surgery center for approximately 2-3 hours in order to accommodate the pre-op preparation and post-op recovery period. You will need to arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
How long does cataract surgery recovery take?
The good news is that smaller incisions for cataract surgery means shorter healing time and more rapid vision recovery for most patients. In some cases patients see well the day after cataract surgery. Other patients see well a few days after surgery, and still others may need a full month or several weeks before reaching maximum vision improvement.
The new Multi-focal lens implants and the most advanced intraocular lenses (IOL’s), allow patients who are good candidates the opportunity to enjoy good distance and reading vision with minimal or no need for glasses following the cataract procedure.
David W. Karp, MD