By the year 2050, the National Eye Institute (NEI) predicts that more than 50.2 million Americans will develop cataracts. So, it should come as no surprise that cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedure across the country. Still, there is a lot that the general public does not know about cataract surgery – particularly when it comes to post-op care.
Cataract Surgery Post-Op Care & The Importance of Follow-Up Appointments
Patients return the morning after cataract surgery for their first follow-up appointment, which generally takes less than an hour.
“Having the surgery is just a step in the process,” says April Pevear, Operations Supervisor at Anne Arundel Eye Center. “It is important to work closely with your doctor to ensure that the prescription eye drops are working as expected and that your eye is healthy and healing appropriately. The directions for these eyedrops can change depending on how well your eye responds to the treatment so it requires careful monitoring and guidance to ensure you do not under medicate – or over medicate your eye.”
Additional follow-up appointments typically take place 1-2 weeks after surgery. At this point, most patients see their optometrist to be measured for glasses and obtain an updated eyeglass prescription. We schedule most patients to return to see us 2-3 months after surgery to follow up on how well the eye is doing. However, it is important to remember that each patient heals differently, so follow-up appointment timelines may vary patient to patient.
At each post-op visit, your eye doctor will check your vision and eye pressure to ensure your eye is healthy and everything is healing according to plan. “We also review eyedrops, home care instructions, and work with you to ensure you have a clear treatment plan and there are no questions or concerns about the next steps to take,” says Pevear. “We want our patients to feel informed and comfortable about the process.”
If at any point during the recovery process a patient experiences any of the following, it is important to contact a doctor right away:
- Vision loss
- Pain that persists despite the use of over-the-counter pain medications
- Increased eye redness
- Light flashes or multiple new spots (floaters) in front of your eye
“Patients are always asked to reach out to us with any questions or concerns that they have and we have a very low threshold to bring them in for a follow-up appointment,” says Pevear. However, many eye concerns aren’t accompanied by noticeable symptoms, which is why regularly scheduled follow-up appointments are so important.
“Oftentimes when caught early we are able to resolve eyesight issues so that a patient is able to gain the best possible clarity,” says Pevear. “However the more time that passes and the longer an issue is allowed to fester, the more challenging it becomes to assist someone. It’s one of the reasons we are so diligent as eye care providers to staying ahead of any trouble.”
Can My Cataract Grow Back?
The short answer is no. Your cataract will not grow back after surgery. There is, however, a thin membrane left behind following surgery. “Leaving this membrane in place when we do surgery gives us greater lens options and allows us to more closely customize vision options for patients,” explains Pevear.
What some patients experience weeks or months following cataract surgery is the clouding of this membrane. This is often misconstrued as the regrowth of the cataract itself when, in fact, it’s a perfectly normal part of the healing process.
“If this occurs we perform a quick procedure that polishes this membrane away,” says Pevear.
This simple outpatient procedure is called a Yag Capsulotomy and is performed by a Yag Laser at an outpatient surgical center.
Cataract Pre- and Post-Op Care with Anne Arundel Eye Center
The Anne Arundel Eye Center (AAEC) is a regional leader in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma and cataracts. A consultation with board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles will guide you through the treatment process and help you determine the best course of action. Dr. Boles utilizes the LenSx® Laser, the most technologically advanced option for cataract patients today, to create a cataract surgery that’s 100% unique to each patient.
“Cataract surgery isn’t the end of the journey, it’s the beginning,” says Pevear. “So take us with you, we’ve walked this road many times.”
Staffed by caring and knowledgeable professionals, AAEC’s state-of-the-art treatment center is dedicated to making the best eye care accessible to everyone.
If you have any questions, the eye care specialists at AAEC by calling 410-224-2010.