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My Experience With Cataract Eye Surgery and Recovery

As regular readers will know, I underwent cataract surgery at a fairly young age. This article is based on my experience.

Cataract surgery doesn't have to be scary

Cataract surgery doesn't have to be scary

So, You Need Cataract Surgery

On March 4, 2010, I underwent cataract surgery for my left eye. As I recovered from the procedure in the following weeks, I felt the urge to share my experience—discussing things that went wrong and things that went right.

Hopefully, others who are about to undergo the same procedure can be reassured by my experience with cataract surgery. As you will see, there is really nothing to fear about this surgery.

Preparing for the Surgery

I arrived at the hospital for my 1 PM appointment. After being admitted by the receptionist, I made my way to the day surgery unit.

I had my blood pressure and demographics checked as I was checked in. I also received a wristband with my name on it and was given two eye drops in my left eye. Both eyes are never operated on at once so that, in the worst-case scenario, only one eye would lose its sight.

After the check-in procedures, I was taken to meet with my consultant. I had every faith in this doctor. She did some routine checks and made sure the eye to be operated on was clearly marked. These preparatory procedures have been tightened recently in order to prevent errors.

When I got back to the waiting room, I received two more eye drops meant to dilate the pupils for the surgery. I was instructed to change out of my normal clothes into a hospital dressing gown and some slippers.

I then got the final two eye drops in my left eye before the anesthetist arrived. I was rather nervous about the surgery, to say the least, and had opted for sedation. Even so, I couldn't help but feel anxious, and I was unsure of what to expect.

Some much-needed, light-hearted banter accompanied the administration of fenthion via a cannula in my hand. Local anesthesia ensures that the patient feels no pain. Paralytic eye drops are also used to make sure the eyeball remains perfectly still while the doctor performs the surgery. As I was moved to the operating room, I felt a squirt of the sedative and went blank.

I really had nothing to worry about.

Going Under and Waking up

The next thing I knew, I was in the surgical theatre with a light over me. I calmly replied, "Yes" when the consultant asked me if I felt alright. She said that everything had gone really well and that the cover would be removed shortly.

In what seemed like a flash, I was in the post-operative wing—on my feet and walking back to my hubby with assistance from a lovely nurse. The whole process only took about 25-30 minutes.

I had a large patch over my eye, but there was no pain. As I tried to brush my hair, I realized that my head and face were still numb from the local anesthesia.

I had to wait just over an hour—during which time I had a drink and a snack—before my eye was checked. As the patch was removed, I could see nothing out of my left eye. However, I was told that the surgery appeared to have been successful.

A smaller patch was applied. Armed with a supply of eye drops, my hubby and I made our way home.

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I felt no pain after the surgery.

At Home, Post-Operation

I had to remove the patch before bed that night to administer my first eye drop. My hubby helped remove the very sticky patch. Once it was removed, I found that I could see again. Already, my sight was so much better. By the next day, the sight in my left eye was near perfect.

The Cataract Surgery Was a Success

My sight is already so good in my new eye that I feel sure I will not need spectacles in the future. However, I will probably still need reading glasses, as most patients do.

The Only Problem Was the Poor Vision in My Right Eye

One of my only problems was that the vision in my right eye was still very bad. Although I can manage to use my computer a little, my right eye's poor vision has limited my activities. I have also not been able to read comfortably.

I have tried wearing old specs around the home with one of the lenses removed. Because many of my recent spectacles have been varifocals, this has not really worked. In the end, I bought some cheap reading glasses. I was advised to get the mildest strength I could manage so that I did not damage the good work that the operation did.

I have also bought some decent sunglasses. Because there is a higher risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) after cataract surgery, it is vital to protect your eyes.

My Recovery From the Cataract Surgery

Another check-up is usually scheduled about a week after the surgery. This is when you and your doctor will set a date for cataract surgery on the other eye. An eyesight test will usually follow. You usually have to finish your eye drops for the first eye (which lasts about four weeks) before undergoing surgery for the other eye.

Recovery Tips

  • In the week following the surgery, try to refrain from using your computer too much.
  • I was also told not to lift or bend.
  • Maintaining good hygiene is very important—especially when administering eye drops—to prevent infections.
  • Take time off work for as long as you need. It was nice to have a week away from work, but it was also tediously boring. Convalescing can be that way. However, I chose to stay on leave for another week to avoid getting an infection.

I have to thank the NHS and the excellent care I received. I'm also grateful for my husband. When the going gets tough, he always pulls out all the stops—and he has been brilliant.

I can honestly say that I cannot wait to have cataract surgery on my left eye.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: How quick were you able to drive after your cataract eye surgery?

Answer: I do not drive, but I believe most patients can drive within a day or so of surgery. You should follow your health professional’s advice as everyone responds differently to surgery. In most cases in the U.K. cataract surgery is performed under local anesthetic which speeds up recovery time.

One thing to bear in mind is your sight may be impaired but differently if for example you still need surgery on your other eye.

Question: I have had amblyopia in my left eye since childhood and have always worn glasses to correct this. I have a large cataract on the my right eye and a small one on the left eye. Will I still have to wear glasses after surgery in both eyes?

Answer: An interesting question. This link has some background information

The results of cataract surgery can vary depending on other eye conditions, your age and your general health. I think you may be spectacle free or may not be, to be honest. Even without your condition some patients find they still need to wear reading glasses after cataract surgery, plus over time the aging process kicks in and glasses are often needed even after successful surgery.

You will need to discuss all options with your optician, orthoptist and or ophthalmology surgeon. It may be that you will only need reading spectacles.

Overall the outcome of cataract surgery is good.

© 2010 Ethel Smith


Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on October 06, 2018:

My surgery was in my 50s a fair while back and how they do things keeps changing. My husband is just on the waiting list for cataract surgery in one eye so we will see how it goes. Thanks Kirti

kirtidv2006 on October 06, 2018:

Thanks for sharing Ethel. Both my parents had cataract surgery about 20 years ago and I remember how difficult the first week was for them. Glad that I was there to help them out. They weren't able to bend and not used to having bandages on the eye it was difficult for them to get around.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on September 09, 2018:

Hopefully it will be fine. But to be on the safe side I would ask advice from either an optician or your doctor.

Diana Laberge on September 09, 2018:

I just had cateract surgery e couple days ago upon awakening this morning I caught myself rubbing my eye that I just had surgery on what should I do

Stacy Hicks on November 15, 2017:

I have dry eye from cataract in my right eye. I'm scared to have the surgery. I need a great Dr whom takes Medicare and United Health Care.

Ria Stadler on August 28, 2016:

I had cataract surgery in July 2015 of the right eye. The eye had a shadow in the side but it disappeared after ± a week. A week after the right eye's surgery, the left eye was done also resulting in a shadow in the outer corner and was informed by the surgeon that it would disappear. Six months later I visited the surgeon and complained about the persisting shadow. The eye was examined and treatment was administered. It is now 13 months later and the shadow persists. I again consulted the surgeon in June 2016. He examined the eye and I was informed that I would just have to get used to it. Is this acceptable?

Thank you.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on January 27, 2012:

Hi ethel so glad to hear that your surgery went well, so did mine(check hub i wrote about it,if you like) It is so awesome to be able to see good again !

Vote up !!!

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 25, 2010:

Iðunn I hope you get your eye probs sorted. I obeyed doctors orders for the first week and intend to do the same next time. Your story is a good warning.

Wildt I am sure you will be up and running in no time. Thanks for the visit and kind comments.

Iðunn on March 24, 2010:

wow, ralph, that really sucked for your family. :( I'm so sorry. I had one eye done and everything went well. I rather liked it because I had one close eye and one far and I never had to wear glasses and I could still read.

then the other eye went. a couple of things went wrong and one was my fault and the other nothing I could help. I didn't follow doctor instructions. I lifted my grandchildren, laundry all kinds of things. It never healed properly and is weaker. And the other thing, now I had two 'far' eyes and no near. It sucks to read now and I love to read. :(

ethel, grand hub and hello again~

wildt on March 23, 2010:

wow very very good hub. i just started but this is a rolemodel hub.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 20, 2010:

Thanks my friend for the kind wishes

mdlawyer on March 19, 2010:

Kudos for the excellent hub. May God bless you to regain your normal eye-sight!

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 14, 2010:

Thanks to you all. I have left your link Marissa as readers needing such surgery need all the info possible.

Wordscribe I know what you mean about wincing but that's why I hope this hub helps calm people's fears. If I can breeze through it anyone can.

Yes money it is great seeing again but I just need my other eye done. Not long though. In the UK they always leave at least a month between in case any complications happen.

Roll on 15th April.

Money Glitch from Texas on March 14, 2010:

Welcome back and thanks so much Ethel for sharing your experience with this eye surgery. I am so glad that all went well. I've heard that it is exciting to be able to see clearly again. Have a great rest of the weekend, my friend :)

wordscribe41 on March 14, 2010:

Any surgery having to do with EYEBALLS makes me wince, Ethel. I was wondering what you meant about your eyes in a forum post you made. I'm glad your surgery was successful. How was your appointment yesterday, by the way? Were you given the "all clear"? Thanks for this highly informative hub, as always.

Kate Swanson from Sydney on March 14, 2010:

Ethel, my husband also waited until he couldn't legally drive before "taking the plunge". He's unlucky because he has a high risk of retinal detachment than most - but when it's a choice between not seeing and not seeing, what can you do?

He also struggled when he had only one eye done because of the huge difference in sight - like you, he couldn't use his old glasses even for one eye. Unfortunately the surgeon put his back out, so the second op ended up being a whole month after the first one! He has now had the second eye done.

He's having some difficulty getting used to taking reading glasses everywhere, because he's worn multifocals all his life, but he's adapting.

I wrote a Hub about what to do after cataract surgery, you may find it helpful (feel free to delete this comment if you'd rather not have the link on your Hub):

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 14, 2010:

Paradise you are so sweet. Yes I am limiting my computer time just now.

ParadiseForever from Chennai, India. on March 13, 2010:

Hi Ethel,

First of all I am so happy you are recovering soon from your eye surgery. But even then, do not use much of your time on the computer until doctor is advising you for that. My congrats to you for crossing 100 hubscore. My prayers are always there for you to get well soon fully, become normal and write more for us.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 13, 2010:

I know exactly what you mean. In your position I would be the same. If surgery becomes the only course for you though I hope it goes well. Hopefully disasters are rare

Ralph Deeds from Birmingham, Michigan on March 13, 2010:

Ethel, I didn't mean to be quite so pessimistic. I'm glad your first surgery turned out well and I wish you well for the second. Until my brother's and sister's unfortunate experience I'd considered cataract surgery routine and minor. Now I'm quite a bit more wary of it.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 12, 2010:

Thanks so much hello x

I will be getting back into reading and writing next week I hope

Hello, hello, from London, UK on March 12, 2010:

Hello, ethel, I am so glad to hear from you. I was thinking of you many times - no lies - but didn't want to email in case you are tempted to get to the computer to soon. I am glad all went well and all the best wishes.

Darline Kilpatrick from Delaware on March 12, 2010:

Hi Ethel, I just finished your excellent hub detailing your surgery. Thanks for taking the time to do so as I have always wondered what was involved. So many have this surgery and I am sure they will want to read about your very positive experience to steady their nerves. Well done and I'm glad you have your next appointment in April and that your check up was fine.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 12, 2010:

Thanks to you all. I am so sorry Ralph that all did not go well for your relatives. I do not drive anyway but if I did my eyesight would have been too bad to. I am glad I did not read your stories before surgery.

It is true that such surgery should not be taken lightly. However hopefully my tale will help steady the nerves of those embarking on this path.

My check up was fine and I now have the date for my next eye. 15th April. Not long at all.

Eileen Hughes from Northam Western Australia on March 12, 2010:

Oh ethel it is good to have you happy and well again. So remember not too much eye strain you said. We can wait for you to get back to top condition again. Great explanations and this should put peoples fears to rest. Thanks for sharing

Pollyannalana from US on March 11, 2010:

I will be there in about five years they say, good to know it wasn't so bad.

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on March 11, 2010:

I'm glad it went well.

Loveofnight Anderson from Baltimore, Maryland on March 11, 2010:

i am happy to know that all is well with you and hope that things continue on the right path.we never know just how much we depend on a thing until it is not available to us.thanks for sharing this with us because i know that there are those of us that need to hear some positive things about something as delicate as eye surgery.....thx 4 share

jgw899 from Santa Cruz on March 11, 2010:

Yikes ! Creepy first picture too !

Ralph Deeds from Birmingham, Michigan on March 11, 2010:

Any eye surgery is not to be taken lightly. My younger brother and sister both had serious problems with cataract surgery. My brother's case was inexcusable--who ever typed the prescription for the lens made a typo and nobody double checked it. Therefore the wrong lens was installed in his eye and he was nearly blind in that eye. The doctor apologised profusely and arranged for someone else 6 months later to remove the wrong lens and install the correct one. In the meantime my brother had to wear a patch over the eye. Fortunately the second operation turned out okay or so my brother thought. He sued the hospital (Yale Medical School) and the doctor and the insurance company waited until the day before the trial to make an offer to settle the case. My brother accepted the offer. A year or so later he suffered a partially detached retina in the same eye. Fortunatley that was successfully reattached with laser surgery. A doctor told me recently that retina problems sometimes result from cataract surgery.

My sister's case was even worse. A lens was installed in her eye but it was installed crooked. Her vision was worse than before the surgery. The doctor said, "not to worry, I can install a 'piggy back' lens on top of the first one, and this will correct the problem." He did but it didn't correct the problem. So she went to a second eye surgeon who removed both lenses and installed a new one. This improved her vision, but not completely. So she had a laser surgery "touch-up." This was recent so I'm not sure yet how that worked out. I told her she should speak to a lawyer. Her surgery was done a University of Arizona Medical Center.

I've decided not to have cataract surgery until I'm unable to drive or read without it. Then I'm going to try to find the best available ophthalmologist.

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