A close up picture of a persons eye with a cataract

As an ophthalmologist with 25 years of experience, I would like to emphasize the importance of preparing your eyes for surgery. It is crucial to follow the guidelines provided, such as using antibiotic eye drops as prescribed, avoiding contact lenses, and maintaining eye cleanliness. These steps are essential for reducing the risk of infection and ensuring a successful surgery. By adhering to these recommendations, you can help achieve accurate measurements and minimize the chances of complications.

Key Takeaways

  • Cataract surgery is a safe and effective procedure for improving vision impaired by cataracts.
  • Pre-surgical steps include monitoring eye health, discussing medications with your doctor, scheduling the procedure, and taking precautions prior to surgery such as using antibiotic eye drops and avoiding contact lenses.
  • Post-surgery care involves following activity limitations proper eye care including prescribed eyedrops and sunglasses when necessary. Common concerns related to risks/complications of cataract surgery & secondary cataracts can be managed with close consultation with a doctor.

Understanding Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a transformative procedure that not only restores vision but also enhances the quality of life for many individuals. By removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial one, patients can experience significant improvements in their vision and daily functioning, including the ability to see bright lights more clearly, as the cataract no longer obstructs the natural lens.

We’ll further explore the specifics of cataract surgery, its benefits, and the process involved in the operation.

What is cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is a common eye procedure that addresses vision loss caused by cataracts. Cataracts are a natural occurrence with age, resulting in a cloudy lens that impairs vision. When cataracts begin interfering with daily activities or other eye treatments, eye doctors may recommend surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a clear artificial lens.

This outpatient procedure boasts a high success rate – 97% of patients report improved vision. Nonetheless, discussing potential risks and benefits with a cataract surgeon is advisable before proceeding. Rest assured, cataract surgery is generally a safe and effective solution for treating vision problems caused by cataracts. It is important to consult with a professional who can suggest cataract surgery as a suitable option.

The surgical procedure

The cataract surgery procedure involves the removal of the cloudy lens and the implantation of an artificial lens, taking about an hour to complete. Before the surgery, patients must avoid wearing eye makeup, facial lotions, and aftershave to ensure a clean and healthy surgical environment.

During the surgery, the cataract surgeon performs the following steps:

  1. Makes a tiny incision in the cornea, allowing access to the lens capsule.
  2. Removes the cloudy lens using ultrasound waves.
  3. Carefully place the new intraocular lens (artificial lens) within the lens capsule.

After a short recovery period, patients can typically return to their normal activities with improved vision, no longer experiencing blurred vision.

Benefits of cataract surgery

Cataract surgery offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Restored vision
  • Improved daily functioning
  • Significant enhancement of visual functioning, both close and distant vision
  • Gains in real-life activities, emotional well-being, and social life components

Another advantage of cataract surgery is the potential reduction in dependence on eyeglasses. Studies have shown that between 60% and 88% of patients experience decreased reliance on eyeglasses after cataract surgery.

Overall, cataract surgery can greatly improve one’s quality of life and reduce the risk of falls.

Pre-Surgical Steps: What You Need to Do

As you prepare for cataract surgery, there are several pre-surgical steps to consider, including monitoring your eye health, discussing medications with your doctor, and scheduling and planning for the surgery.

Adhering to these guidelines may contribute to a successful procedure and reduce potential risks and complications.

Monitoring eye health

Monitor any changes in your eye health, like redness or infections, in the weeks following your surgery. If you notice any issues, contact your eye doctor immediately to address them before your surgery.

Maintaining good eye health before the procedure can help ensure a successful outcome and reduce the risk of complications.

Discussing medications with your doctor

It’s necessary to disclose any medications you’re currently taking to your doctor before surgery, as adjustments or temporary discontinuation may be required. For example, certain medications may increase the risk of bleeding during surgery, and your doctor may recommend stopping them briefly.

Be sure to consult your doctor about your medications to ensure a safe and successful procedure.

Scheduling and planning for surgery

Ensure you’ve allocated enough time off work and arranged for assistance at home to aid your recovery when planning your cataract surgery. You’ll also need to arrange transportation to and from the surgery center, as you cannot drive home after the procedure.

By scheduling and planning for your surgery properly, you can help ensure a smooth and stress-free experience.

Preparing Your Eyes for Surgery

As your surgery approaches, you’ll need to take steps to prepare your eyes for the procedure. This includes using antibiotic eye drops, avoiding contact lenses, and maintaining eye cleanliness.

Following these guidelines may contribute to a successful surgery and reduce potential risks and complications.

Using antibiotic eye drops

In the days leading up to your surgery, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotic eye drops to help prevent infection. Be sure to use these eye drops as directed and continue using them after surgery to reduce the risk of infection further.

Antibiotic eye drops are essential for maintaining healthy eyes and ensuring a successful surgery.

Avoiding contact lenses

In the days before your surgery, you’ll need to avoid wearing contact lenses and switch to wearing glasses instead, as you should not wear contact lenses during this period. This is because contact lenses can alter the shape of your cornea, which can impact the procedure results.

Avoiding contact lenses before surgery can help ensure the most accurate measurements and the best possible outcome.

Keeping your eyes clean and healthy

Maintain clean and healthy eyes before surgery by ensuring not to wear eye makeup and adhering to good hygiene practices. This includes washing your hands before applying eye drops and avoiding touching your eyes unnecessarily.

Maintaining good eye hygiene can help ensure a successful surgery and minimize the risk of complications.

Dressing and Personal Care for Cataract Surgery

Dressing comfortably and practicing good personal care on the day of your surgery can contribute to a smooth and successful procedure.

In the following sections, we’ll recommend comfortable clothing, avoiding cosmetics and fragrances, and maintaining proper hygiene practices.

Comfortable clothing recommendations

For your cataract surgery, wearing clean, loose-fitting, and comfortable clothing is recommended. Opt for a shirt that buttons up the front, making it easy to put on and take off without disturbing your eyes.

Flat shoes are also advised for your safety and comfort.

Avoiding cosmetics and fragrances

On the day of your surgery, you should avoid using cosmetics, fragrances, or scented products. These products can potentially cause irritation or infection during the procedure.

By keeping your skin and hair free of cosmetics and fragrances, you can help ensure a clean and healthy surgical environment.

Proper hygiene practices

In addition to avoiding cosmetics and fragrances, it’s important to maintain proper hygiene on the day of your surgery, including brushing your teeth and washing your face.

Be mindful of any fasting guidelines your doctor provides and practice good hand hygiene to minimize the risk of infection.

Fasting and Dietary Guidelines

Following your doctor’s fasting and dietary guidelines is essential in preparing for your cataract surgery. These guidelines typically involve abstaining from food, certain beverages, and alcohol before surgery.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss fasting instructions, foods to avoid, and hydration and alcohol consumption.

Fasting instructions

Before surgery, you’ll need to fast for the recommended period, typically 12 hours. This is done to reduce the likelihood of stomach contents or acid refluxing into your lungs while under anesthesia, helping to prevent complications and harm to your lungs during the surgery.

Fasting is an important part of preparing for surgery, and it’s important to follow

Foods to avoid

In addition to fasting, you should avoid consuming foods that may cause complications or interfere with anesthesia. Your doctor will provide specific guidelines on which foods to avoid and when to stop eating before your surgery.

Hydration and alcohol consumption

It’s important to stay hydrated with water before surgery, but you should avoid alcohol consumption in the days leading up to your procedure.

Alcohol can interfere with the effects of anesthesia and the safety and efficacy of local anesthesia during the surgery.

Arranging Transportation and Post-Surgery Assistance

After cataract surgery, transportation and post-surgery assistance are required to facilitate a smooth recovery.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss organizing a ride home, planning for post-surgery help at home, and coordinating follow-up appointments with your doctor.

Organizing a ride home

On the day of your surgery, you’ll need someone else to drive you home, as you won’t be able to drive yourself. Arrange for a reliable person, such as a friend or family member, to pick you up after your surgery and ensure a safe return home.

Make sure to have a plan in place before your surgery so that you can get home safely

Planning for post-surgery help at home

You’ll likely need assistance with daily tasks and activities at home during your initial recovery period. Plan for someone to help you with:

  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Administering eye drops
  • Following any post-operative care instructions from your doctor

Ensure that you have a support system in place to help you during this time. Ask family

Coordinating follow-up appointments

After your surgery, scheduling follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your progress and address any concerns is important.

These appointments are essential for successful recovery and maintaining long-term eye health.

Recovery and Post-Surgery Care

Post-cataract surgery is crucial to adhere to your doctor’s recovery guidelines, including activity limitations, eye care, and recognizing when to reach out to your doctor.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss activity limitations, eye care, and when to contact your doctor.

Activity limitations

To ensure a smooth recovery, you must avoid strenuous activities, bending, and lifting for at least a week after surgery. This helps to prevent an increase in eye pressure and allows your eye to heal properly.

Your doctor will provide specific guidelines on when you can resume normal activities.

Caring for your eyes after surgery

After surgery, it’s important to keep your eyes clean and protected by following these steps:

  1. Use prescribed eye drops as directed by your doctor.
  2. Wear sunglasses as needed to protect your eyes from bright light and UV rays.
  3. Follow your doctor’s instructions for proper eye care during your recovery to help ensure the best possible outcome.

Knowing when to contact your doctor

During your recovery, you must contact your doctor if you experience any complications or concerns, such as severe pain, increasing redness, or vision loss. Timely communication with your doctor can help address issues and ensure a successful recovery.

Addressing Common Concerns

While cataract surgery is generally safe and effective, understanding the associated risks and complications, along with the possibility of secondary cataracts, is crucial.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss the risks and complications of cataract surgery and the occurrence of secondary cataracts.

Risks and complications

While cataract surgery is typically safe, some risks and complications can occur, such as infection, bleeding, and vision loss. However, these complications are generally rare and can be effectively treated.

It’s important to discuss potential risks and complications with your doctor before undergoing surgery to ensure you have a clear understanding of the procedure. If you already have another eye disease or a chronic medical condition, the risk of complications may be increased. It is important to discuss this with your doctor. By working closely with your doctor and following their recommendations, you can minimize the risk of complications and ensure a successful surgery.

Secondary cataracts

Secondary cataracts, also known as posterior capsule opacification, can occur following cataract surgery. This happens when the lens capsule, which supports the artificial lens, becomes clouded.

Secondary cataracts can be treated with a simple, painless laser procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy. By staying informed and following your doctor’s advice, you can effectively manage and treat secondary cataracts.


In conclusion, cataract surgery is a life-changing procedure that offers patients the opportunity to regain clear vision and improve their daily functioning. By following the guidelines outlined in this essential guide, you can confidently prepare for cataract surgery and enjoy the benefits of restored vision and an enhanced quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should you not do before cataract surgery?

Before cataract surgery, avoid wearing makeup, perfume, cologne, aftershave, spray-on deodorant, or hairspray; remove contact lenses; and abstain from eating or drinking and taking certain medications.

How do you prepare your eyes for cataract surgery?

Before cataract surgery, it is important to stop taking certain medications, use eye drops as prescribed by your doctor, fast for 12 hours, and wear comfortable clothes without cosmetics. After the procedure, it is advisable to have plain acetaminophen and 70% isopropyl alcohol at home for any post-surgery discomfort and follow the 8-step guide provided by your doctor.

How many days rest is needed after cataract surgery?

It is normal to need 1-3 days rest after cataract surgery in order to resume most normal activities. However, it may take up to 8 weeks for a full recovery and it is usually only after 6 weeks that you will be able to order new glasses.


  1. “Preparing for Cataract Surgery: What You Need to Know” – https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-to-expect-before-during-after-cataract-surgery
  2. “Preparing for Cataract Surgery: A Step-by-Step Guide” – https://www.healthline.com/health/cataract-surgery-preparation
  3. “Cataract Surgery: What to Expect Before, During, and After” – https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cataract-surgery/in-depth/cataract-surgery/art-20048441
  4. “Preparing for Cataract Surgery: A Comprehensive Guide” – https://www.allaboutvision.com/surgery/preparing.htm
  5. “Cataract Surgery Preparations: Tips for a Smooth Experience” – https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-to-expect-on-the-day-of-your-cataract-surgery-3421889


Photo graph of Dr. Conlon operating with loops on.

Dr. M. Ronan Conlon started his career in the field of ophthalmology at the same time as the development of refractive eye surgery in Canada. In 1996, he brought laser technology to Canada from Germany, which allowed him to perform laser eye surgery before it was available in the United States. With the establishment of the Conlon Eye Institute, Dr. Conlon has performed more than 40,000 refractive procedures and has advanced his expertise in LASIK and refractive cataract surgery.

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