Is Cataract Surgery Safe? (And Other Important Questions)

Woman walking in nature

When patients realize that cataract surgery involves removing their cloudy, natural lens and replacing it with a clear, synthetic one, they have a lot of questions.

We understand. It can be daunting to think about something as delicate as your eyes — which you’ve spent a lifetime keeping objects away from, much less being operated on.

We have good news to alleviate your fears. First, cataract surgery is the most performed procedure in the U.S. This makes sense given that about half of people over the age of 75 will develop cataracts, a percentage that’s expected to increase as life expectancies continue to rise. In other words, nearly everyone in the U.S. will either have this surgery themselves or will care for a loved one who has cataracts.

Secondly, because of the large number of cataract surgeries performed each year, the procedure has been studied and refined so that it now boasts one of the highest safety and success profiles of all surgeries. Statistically, a lot of other things in your life have a much higher chance of going wrong before a cataract surgery would.

Like all surgical procedures, there are risks associated with cataract surgery and complications do occur for a small number of patients. These are often related to other medical conditions, so it’s important to disclose all relevant information to your surgeon beforehand so you receive the most well-informed care possible.

While we’re on the topic of cataract surgery, we want to answer two other related questions that usually accompany those about the safety of cataract surgery.

What happens during cataract surgery?

Following a comprehensive cataract consultation complete with extensive testing and measurements, the surgery itself is an outpatient procedure performed in three steps:

  1. Microscopic incisions are made in your eye. These allow a tiny instrument to be inserted.
  2. Ultrasonic waves are used to break the cloudy lens into small pieces. These are suctioned away.
  3. The new, clear lens is inserted.

Generally, cataract surgery only takes about 15 minutes. Patients are kept comfortable for about an hour after their procedure to ensure it was a success and to allow the sedative to wear off. Once it does, patients are released into the care of a family member or friend.

How long does it take for cataract surgery to heal?

Healing time can vary by patient, but most report that they’ve recovered within a week to 10 days.

The benefits of restored vision outweigh the mild discomfort. Within 24 hours — and sometimes less — patients report being able to see clearly again. Time and time again, they tell us about the hobbies and pastimes that fell by the wayside when they had cataracts. Now that they can see clearly again, they’ve returned to things they once enjoyed with a renewed appreciation for their vision.

If you’re ready to reclaim some of your favorite pastimes with clearer vision, contact Vance Thompson Vision to schedule your cataract consultation. To schedule, call us at (605) 361‑EYES (3937) or fill out our contact form.