Cataract Surgery FAQs

What are cataracts?

Your eye has an “outside” covering called the cornea.  The “middle” part of the eye has a lens structure that is 9mm wide and 4mm thick.  When we are young, the lens is usually transparent.  Over time, as cataracts form, the lens begins to darken or turn white.  When this happens, less light passes through your lens and the “inside” layers of the eye can no longer distinguish certain images.

What causes cataracts?

There are multiple causes, including:

  • Family history of cataracts
  • Age
  • UV light
  • Smoking
  • Certain medications (especially steroids)
  • Trauma
  • Radiation

Is cataract surgery covered by insurance and Medicare?

Yes. All insurances cover the procedure if it is considered medically necessary.

What are the first symptoms of cataracts?

 Different individuals have different symptoms. Some notice a glare or halos at night while driving, some have blurry vision at a distance, or while reading.  Other individuals experience double vision or light sensitivity.

How safe is cataract surgery?

 Cataract surgery is one of the most successful surgeries performed in modern medicine and one of the most common.  Satisfaction rates, safety rates and improved outcomes are among the highest of any surgery.

How are cataracts removed?

 Two small slits are made in the cornea. A numbing agent is injected into the front of the eye.  The cataract is removed in many small pieces.  A foldable lens is placed through the small slit and the lens then naturally unfolds in the eye.

What are some side effects of cataract surgery?

 Temporary dry eyes are the most common side effect.  Other side effects include recurrent inflammation.  Serious complications can occur, but they are rare.  Sometimes, to treat the complications, more surgery is required.

I read that certain prostate medication can affect your cataract surgery. What are the medications and what does it do?

Flomax, or Tamsulosin, is a medication used for prostate enlargement that can potentially cause floppy iris syndrome. It can cause this condition even after stopping the medication. Floppy iris syndrome is a condition where the color part of the eye, called the iris, (the part that gives people their eye color: blue, green or brown) can interfere with the surgery, and make the removal of your cataract very difficult.  This problem can be easily controlled if you talk to your surgeon before surgery and mention the medications that you take.

Are there conditions that make cataract surgery less successful?

Yes, certain retina condition such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy can make the surgery less successful. Complicated cataracts, which are special cataracts known to have more complications, can also affect the results.  Generally, if there are other parts to the eye that have disease, this might cause the surgery to be less successful.

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