How long does cataract surgery take?

Category: Medical Information | News

Cataract surgery

Cataracts are a condition most have heard of, but very few know about. It is often associated with the elderly, and while it is more common in the elderly, it does not discriminate against anyone, regardless of age. 

So what are cataracts? A cataract occurs when the eye’s lens becomes “cloudy” or “foggy.” Things may appear hazy, less colorful, or blurry. This is an unfortunate condition to live with. Thankfully, technology has advanced, and this condition can be treated through surgery. 

What is cataract surgery?

The thought of having surgery on your eyes can be an upsetting and uncomfortable idea. However, it is a fairly simple procedure. Your ophthalmologist will answer any questions and address any concerns you may have. During cataract surgery, your natural cloudy lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens. 

What to expect?

Before Surgery

Before surgery, your eye will be measured, and you will be asked to disclose any medications you currently take. If your doctor suspects any adverse interactions between your medicine and the surgery, you may be asked to abstain from taking the potentially hazardous medication. You may be given eye drops to take to help prevent infection and avoid swelling during and after surgery. 

During cataract eye surgery

There is little to fear with cataract surgery. Your surgeon will numb your eye with eye drops or injections surrounding the eye. This procedure is done while you are awake, so you will not experience the side effects of sedative anesthesia. The surgeon may choose to give you medication to relax if you are feeling anxious. It is a relatively quick procedure, usually taking anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. 

Small incisions are made near the edge of your cornea. Through these incisions, the lens can be reached, broken up, and removed. Once that is done, your new lens will be inserted to replace the old one. 

Stitches are not necessary with cataract surgery. The incisions made during the procedure will heal on their own in time. Your surgeon will place a shield over your eye while you recover from the surgery. You will be in the recovery room for approximately 15 to 30 minutes before being discharged to go home. 

After cataract surgery

Patient recovering from cataract surgery

Cataract surgery recovery is fairly simple. 

  • You may be instructed to use eye drops following the procedure. 
  • You will want to avoid getting soap or water directly into your eye.
  • Eyeglasses or a shield to protect your eye may be recommended. This can also help to avoid rubbing or pressing on your eye. 
  • Protective eye equipment will be necessary when you sleep.
  • Your doctor will discuss when you can safely exercise, drive, or do other activities.                 

Cataract surgery cost

Does Medicare cover cataract surgery?

Yes, cataract surgery is generally covered by medicare if you meet a certain deficit level. Private insurance plans may have similar requirements that have to be met. However, depending on certain variables, there may still be some out-of-pocket costs.

The cost of cataract surgery can vary depending on these conditions. Depending on the type of lens you choose, the cost may increase, as some lenses cost more. It may also cost more if you choose to have cataract surgery before your vision has met the necessary deficits. 

If you find yourself in a position where you need cataract surgery and possess no form of insurance, talk to your opthalmologist. They may have payment plans available, or they can refer you to resources that can help you manage the financial cost of the procedure. 

Risks of Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a simple procedure. However, as with any form of surgery, there are some risks you should take into consideration:

  • Eye infection
  • Eye bleeding
  • Swelling of the eye
  • Retina Swelling
  • Detached retina
  • Damage to the eye
  • Pain that does not subside
  • Blurred vision
  • Vision loss
  • Dislocation of the artificial lens

How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?

Side effects of cataract surgery can include:

  • Grittiness
  • Watering of the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Redness

The side effects of cataract surgery usually improve within the first few days. However, it can take up to 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover. 

Training eyes after cataract surgery

The idea of retraining your eyes after cataract surgery may seem unnecessary. Retraining your eyes can make a huge difference in the quality of your vision. Simply using your eyes throughout the day helps to retrain them. Another way to retrain your eyes is to increase exposure to tasks you find visually difficult in less distressing environments. If you have a hard time reading the screen of your computer, try sitting and doing a crossword puzzle instead. These simple tasks can help get your vision to optimum performance. 


Boyd, K. (2022). Cataracts.