Cataract Surgery FAQs

You asked… Dr. Phillips answers…

A cataract is a clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. The light that enters the eye must pass through different structures in the human eye before reaching the retina where images are formed.

  • When do I need Surgery?

Generally speaking, it is the patient who chooses when it is time for cataract surgery. Only in very rare circumstances does a cataract need to be removed for medical reasons. With my cases, only about one in several hundred needs to come out for reasons such as potentially causing glaucoma

  • My doctor says I need cataract surgery. Should I get a second opinion.?

If you still have questions about the surgery and you would like to get another opinion, I think a second opinion is an excellent idea. It will give you reassurance that the cataract is present and another surgeon’s perspective may help you understand the issues. Make sure you see the actual surgeon (Eye MD or ophthalmologist) and not just a referring optometrist for information regarding the surgery.

  • I think I need cataract surgery but my doctor or health plan doesn’t agree. What should I do?

When it comes to having a cataract surgery, the patient should be in the driver’s seat. There may be other reasons you are not seeing well, but your Eye MD should be able to explain this to you. If you still have unanswered questions, seek a second opinion.

  • I am having trouble with my daily activities, but my doctor or health plan says my cataract is not ripe yet. What does “ripe” mean?

As clinicians we try to avoid this term because “ripening” of the cataract depends on the daily activities of the patient. In other words, a radiologist who is reading x-rays may need a cataract removed earlier than a patient who does not drive and lives in a nursing home. This is why a good discussion with the cataract surgeon about all of these issues is important to assist the PATIENT in making a personal decision about surgery.

  • Will the surgery hurt?

This depends on many factors such as the patient’s tolerance for pain, the surgical technique, and the anesthesia used. Few of our patients even remember the surgery much less complain of pain. If you do have discomfort during surgery, there is an anesthesiologist present to make you more comfortable. Our personal approach to cataract surgery is to eliminate both the pain and anxiety as much as possible for the patient.

  • Will I have to go to the hospital?

No, most surgeries are done in a surgery center. We use the Specialty Surgery Center in Arcadia, CA

  • How long does the surgery last?

Most cataract surgeries last about twenty minutes.

  • When can I resume normal activities?

Patients need to be driven to and from the Center the day of surgery. The next day you can resume light activities including walking, driving and light household chores. Limit lifting to 25 lbs. until the second day after surgery when we allow patients to resume most activities.

  • Will I need glasses?

This is a good question to raise with your surgeon when planning the surgery. Modern cataract surgery is no longer just removing the cataract from the eye. Patients can choose to reduce their astigmatism and have multifocal lenses placed at the time of surgery.

  • I have astigmatism, what can I do to reduce it during cataract surgery?

Astigmatism reduction is an option that should be discussed during your cataract consultation. Dr Phillips offers astigmatism reduction to patients who have a significant amount of corneal astigmatism ( generally over 1 diopter.)

  • I want the BEST cataract surgery available. What should I do?

Research your surgeon, since he is the one who is ultimately responsible for all aspect of a good surgical outcome. Seek out factual information about the surgeon, such as found in a CV, and ask specific question about technique. Is the surgery suture-less? What size is the incision in my eye? Do you treat astigmatism in my eye at the time of surgery so my vision may be better after surgery without glasses?