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What should one expect prior to and on the day of surgery?
Prior to the day of surgery, your ophthalmologist will discuss the steps that will occur during surgery. Your ophthalmologist or a staff member will ask you a variety of questions about your medical history and perform a brief physical exam. You should discuss with your ophthalmologist which, if any, of your routine medications you should avoid prior to surgery. Prior to surgery, several calculations will be made to determine the appropriate power intraocular lens to implant. A specific artificial lens is chosen based on the length of the eye and corneal curvature (the clear portion of the front of the eye).
It is important to remember to follow all of your preoperative instructions, which will usually include not eating or drinking anything after midnight the day prior to your surgery. As cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, arrangements should be made with family or friends to transport you home after the surgery is complete. Most cataract surgery occurs in either an ambulatory surgery center or a nearby hospital. You will be required to report several hours before the scheduled time for your surgery. You will meet with the anesthesiologist who will work with the ophthalmologist to determine the type of sedation that will be necessary. Most cataract surgery is done with only minimal anesthesia and numbing drops without having to put you to sleep.
During the actual procedure, there will be several people in the operating room in addition to your ophthalmologist; these include anesthesiologists and operating-room nurses and technicians. While cataract surgery does not involve a significant amount of pain, medications are used to maximize your comfort. The actual removal of the clouded lens will take approximately 20-30 minutes in most instances.
After leaving the operating room, you will be brought to a recovery room where your doctor will prescribe several eye drops that you will need to take for a few weeks postoperatively. While you may notice some discomfort, most patients do not experience significant pain following surgery; if you do you experience decreasing vision or significant pain, you should contact your ophthalmologist immediately. Depending on the type of anesthesia used, you may or may not have a patch on your eye that will remain in place for the first day and night after surgery.
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