Below is a list of some frequently asked questions, but please feel free to call our office if you need additional information, 215-997-2015.
Are there different types of cataracts?
Yes, there are some types of cataracts that grow relatively quickly and others that progress more slowly. Doctors name them based on the location in the lens (nuclear, cortical, posterior subcapsular). They affect vision in different ways, including glare and haloes, reduced contrast, difficulty with distance, difficulty reading fine print, needing more light, distortion of vision, changes in perception of colors, frequent changing of eyeglasses etc.
What are the treatment options?
The doctor judges if new glasses or contact lenses will help first. If not, there are unfortunately no other alternatives other than surgery. Good control of diabetes, avoiding smoking, a good diet (anti-oxidants) and exercise, and sunglass protection may help slow growth of cataracts.
What are the expenses with cataract surgery, and will my insurance cover them?
Most insurance plans cover at least a portion to the entire surgery. Each individual carrier has different rules regarding cataract surgery, so it is best for the patient to contact their carrier directly once a cataract is detected and scheduled for surgery. Some plans carry deductibles. Also, there are a few prescription eye drops that will need to be purchased prior to surgery. If a patient opts for an elective lens implant to try to lessen the need for glasses, additional fees that are not covered by insurance will be discussed.
When is a cataract ready for surgery (Is it “ripe” enough)?
Drs. Sucheski and Walker will aid in the decision. A cataract is ready when it affects your quality of daily living including driving, watching TV, reading, night driving, hobbies, or other vision related tasks. A comprehensive eye exam will determine if cataract is the reason and if your vision qualifies to have surgery.
Will a cataract ever come back?
No, a cataract will never return once it is removed. However, sometimes a cloudy membrane forms in the capsule behind the lens implant. Fortunately, that is able to be removed with a simple in-office laser called a YAG capsulotomy. This has been known as a "secondary cataract" and may form weeks to years after cataract surgery.
What do I have to do prior to surgery?
You will need to have your family doctor, internist or cardiologist examine you to determine if you are able to have outpatient surgery. Also a complete eye exam and consent for surgery will need to be performed. Finally, measurements of the eye by the IOL master and A-scan ultrasound will need to be done to measure the intraocular lens most appropriate for you.
Will I feel any pain during or after surgery?
During surgery, no pain is felt due to strong anesthetic drops given just before surgery and monitored sedation discussed below. After surgery for the first day, there may be a slight ache or burning sensation. Some patients feel an eyelash/gravel sensation or others feel sensitive to light. These symptoms typically go away within a few days after surgery.
Will I be put to sleep for surgery?
A qualified anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will be in the room with Drs. Sucheski or Walker and will give anxiety and sedative drugs by an intravenous route to help alleviate fears. Some cooperation is needed, so most patients are not deeply asleep. You will be able to communicate with doctor if you are having excess anxiety or any discomfort and more anesthetic will be administered. Most cataract surgeries take approximately 10 to 30 minutes.
Are their risks?
All surgeries involve some level of risk. Fortunately, cataract surgery is recognized as one of the most successful surgeries. However, risks include (but are not limited to) decreased vision, loss of vision, infection, prolonged inflammation, retinal problems, need for further eye surgeries, or ptosis (droopy lid). A detailed consent form will be given to you for your review.
What are my restrictions after and when will I be able to return to work?
Most activities can be done within a week of surgery. However, we suggest no rubbing the eye, no eye makeup, no excessive lifting, and avoidance of opening the eyes underwater for a week after surgery. Most patients can return to work within a day to a few days of surgery. Your doctor will likely recommend that you wear a protective shield while you sleep for one week. You will be asked to use eye drops at work for at least 4 weeks on a decreasing (tapering) schedule.
Will I need glasses after surgery?
There are options in cataract surgery to order a lens implant targeted to distance, intermediate or near vision. There are other options to correct astigmatism. We take very precise measurements of the eye to try to reduce dependency on glasses, but no doctor can assure that a patient won’t need glasses. We do offer some advanced technology cataract lenses such as the Crystalens, ReStor or Alcon toric lenses, if glasses independence is a priority. Currently, that is considered an elective surgery and is not covered by insurance carriers. We will discuss these options during your exam as each lens has its advantages and limitations.
How long does it take to heal and are there any side effects that I should expect?
Most patients can return to normal activities within a few days and are able to drive with 2-5 days. However, some patients may take significantly longer (up to a few weeks) to achieve their final visual clarity. An eyeglasses change at one month after surgery may be needed to achieve final clarity. Some patients notice dry eye, visual fluctuations, shimmering around lights, haloes or starbursts at night that continue to reduce for a few weeks after surgery.