Cataract Surgery Checklist: What to Expect Before, During and After Your Procedure

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 16-Oct-2017

If your eye doctor has recommended you have cataract surgery, you’re not alone. In fact, we all develop cataracts as we age, which gradually reduce our quality of vision. Fortunately, cataract surgery – where the old lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens – is safe, painless and effective.

If you’re in the early stages of considering cataract surgery, you probably have a lot of questions. When is the right time for cataract surgery? How do I prepare for cataract surgery? What can I expect during the procedure and in the weeks to come?

Dr. Faber Answers Your Cataract Questions

We asked Key-Whitman’s Arlington eye doctor Martin L. Faber to shed some light on these questions and more. At the end of this post, you’ll also find a handy cataract surgery checklist to use as a guide as you prepare for surgery and while you heal.

Key-Whitman Eye Center’s eye doctor Martin Faber explains how people can regain their independence following cataract surgery.

Question 1: What are the common symptoms of cataracts?

According to Dr. Faber, “The number one complaint we hear from cataract patients is night vision difficulties, where the quality of vision is declining and they experience a lot of glare, halos and starburst symptoms, especially when driving. People also complain of a haze or fog obstructing their vision and will notice their vision gets blurrier over time.”

Question 2: How do I prepare for cataract surgery?

Prior to the procedure, patients undergo a preoperative exam to ensure they are physically healthy enough to have surgery, determine the level of correction needed and to review the type of intraocular lens options available (monovision, accommodative, multifocal, astigmatic correction, etc.).

Learn more about high-technology cataract lens options here.

“At Key-Whitman, we have counselors who walk patients through the process, review insurance coverage and make sure the lens option the patient selects best meets their goals. If there is an eye drop protocol associated with their surgery, the counselor will also go through the drop sequence involved – antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories – well in advance of the procedure,” explains Dr. Faber.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you to surgery, as you won’t be allowed to drive yourself home due to the twilight sedation.

Question 3: How do I know it’s time to get cataract surgery?

When cataracts have worsened to the point where they prevent you from performing day-to-day tasks and interfere with your quality of life, it’s time to consider cataract surgery.

Have one spare minute? Take the first step to finding out if you’re a candidate for vision correction surgery with our handy Self-Evaluation Quiz.

“Cataracts worsen gradually, and we start to make a lot of accommodations for our vision as we get older. Essentially, we assume how well we see is normal. But if it gets to the point where you’re afraid to drive at night, can’t see well enough to safely take your medication or do household chores, and feel a loss of independence due to failing vision, cataract surgery can allow you to enjoy life again,” Dr. Faber says.

While cataracts are often associated with seniors, more people in their 40s and 50s are getting cataract surgery today. Learn more in this past post.

Question 4: What misconceptions do people have about cataract surgery, and what can I really expect during the procedure?

In the past, cataract surgery was quite invasive, there were fewer lens options, and healing took much longer. This isn’t the case today. As Dr. Faber explains, “The biggest misconceptions people have is that the procedure is painful and complicated. That couldn’t be farther from the truth today.”

Dr. Faber explains how anesthetic drops and twilight sedation help ensure patient comfort during cataract surgery.

Question 5: What can I expect following cataract surgery?

  1. Following surgery, the eye surgeon will review the procedure with you and address any questions you have at that time.
  2. Typically, patients leave with a protective eye patch, which will be removed during their follow-up visit the next day.
  3. Subsequent follow-up examinations will be scheduled approximately every two weeks until the eye is healed.

Healing post-surgery is also easier for most cataract patients today. “Key-Whitman uses the most advanced technology available in the market, so healing occurs more quickly and with fewer complications. Even better, once the eyes have healed and adjusted, most patients are surprised by the improvement in their vision. They can see clearly again and notice how colors are much more vibrant than what they could see with cataracts. Depending on the type of intraocular lenses patients choose, many become less dependent on glasses,” Dr. Faber says.

You should also be aware that the surgeon won’t operate on both eyes during the same visit. Surgeries are typically scheduled one to six weeks apart, with three weeks being the average time. This allows plenty of time for the first eye to heal and the patient to realize the full extent of correction in that eyes.

Key-Whitman Eye Center Cataract Surgery Checklist

Prior to surgery:

  1. Schedule a consultation and pre-operative eye exam to verify you are a good candidate for cataract surgery and if any medications you take could interfere with the surgery.
  2. Meet with a patient counselor to discuss questions and concerns, verify insurance coverage, finalize which type of intraocular lens you would like implanted and schedule surgery and next day follow-up appointment.
  3. If your eye surgeon recommends antibiotic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drops prior to surgery, receive your eye drop prescriptions and review the drop sequence required (drops per day, type of drops, period of time prior to surgery, etc.) with your patient counselor.
  4. Arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you to Key-Whitman’s eye surgery center in Dallas on surgery day.

Day of surgery:

  1. Arrive at the surgery center at your assigned time and check in at the front desk.
  2. Go through pre-surgery prep, vitals check, numbing drops and twilight sedation.
  3. Undergo surgery (typically lasts 20 minutes or less) and recover from sedation.
  4. Recap surgery with surgical team, during which time vitals are checked and a snack is provided and a piece of tape or protective eye shield is applied to the eye.
  5. Review written post-surgical instructions with surgical team, preferably with a family member or friend present.
  6. If on a drop protocol, receive post-surgical drops and drop sequence prior to departure.
  7. Return home and plan to rest for the remainder of the day. Abide by any lifting/physical restrictions required by the surgeon.

Days and weeks following surgery:

  1. Next day, return for first follow-up visit with a friend or family member and schedule next follow-up visit.
  2. Diligently follow any drop protocol provided to prevent infection and promote healing.
  3. Expect some minor eye discomfort and itching for two to three days, but DO NOT touch, wipe, rub or put pressure on the operated eye. A clean, warm, damp washcloth may be gently applied to eye for 10 minutes to remove tear residue.
  4. Be prepared to experience initial blurriness that will clear up in the coming days. Other normal side effects that may occur include: Double vision, redness or bloody areas in the white part of the eye, and seeing pink or funny colors.
  5. Contact Key-Whitman if you experience any pain and/or if medication you typically take for a headache isn’t working, or if you have any other questions or concerns.
  6. Do not swim, use hot tubs or participate in water activities – besides bathing or showering – for 10 days.
  7. Do not wear eye make up for 10 days.
  8. Wear eye protection – glasses, sunglasses – during all waking hours for 10 days.
  9. Continue to refrain from rubbing your eye for a month following surgery.
  10. Two weeks following surgery, return for follow-up visit to check progress.
  11. Schedule upcoming follow-up visits and surgery for second eye.
  12. Keep in mind the healing process for each eye may vary significantly, with both still be in the normal range of recovery.

IMPORTANT: The preceding checklist should be used as a guide. Your eye doctor will provide instructions specific to your needs.

Have Additional Questions About Cataract Surgery at Key-Whitman?

Our patient care representatives are here to help! We can answer initial questions by phone and schedule your consultation with Dr. Faber in our North Arlington location or an eye doctor at one of our other eye centers in Dallas, North Dallas, South Arlington, Plano or Mesquite.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call (972) 905-9128 or feel free to set up an appointment online.


Dr. Martin L. Faber is a Therapeutic Optometrist who has practiced in the Dallas - Fort Worth area since 1983. He attended undergraduate studies at Michigan State University and received his Optometry degree from Ferris State University's Michigan College of Optometry. Focused on complete family eye care, Dr. Faber fits all types of contact lenses including multifocal and high astigmatism lenses. Dr. Faber's wife Shelley is the CNE for Baylor Scott and White Hospital System. In his spare time, he enjoys woodworking and remodeling their home in Arlington. Dr. Faber also likes to bowl competitively and travels to many tournaments.

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