How Long Does Cataract Surgery Take?

How Long Does Cataract Surgery Take

Cataract surgery is a common and highly successful medical procedure. In cataract surgery, the cloudy natural lens is removed from the eye and replaced with a clear artificial lens. One of the questions frequently asked by individuals considering cataract surgery is, “How long does the procedure take?” For most patients, the surgery takes less than 30 minutes, although it may take longer for eyes with other medical problems. Keep reading to learn more about cataract surgery, the surgical process, and what you can expect in terms of time and recovery.

Understanding Cataracts

Cataracts are a natural part of the aging process, and they occur when the clear lens of the eye becomes clouded, leading to blurred vision, glare sensitivity, and difficulty with daily tasks. Cataract surgery is the primary treatment for cataracts and is known for its high success rate in restoring clear vision.

The Surgical Process

Cataract surgery is typically an outpatient procedure performed by an ophthalmologist and involves the following steps:

  • Anesthesia: Before the surgery begins, the patient is given either local anesthesia in the form of eye drops or a small injection around the eye. This ensures that you will not feel any pain during the procedure.
  • Incision: The surgeon makes a small incision in the eye to access the cloudy lens. The cataract surgeon will then insert a probe to break up the cataract.
  • Lens Removal: The cataract is carefully removed, and the artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is implanted in its place. The IOL is a clear, synthetic lens that remains permanently in the eye.
  • Closing the Incision: The incision is closed. This may or may not require sutures.

How Long Does the Surgery Take?

The duration of cataract surgery can vary, but on average, the procedure lasts less than 30 minutes. The complexity of the cataract and the specific technique used can all influence the duration. Patients should anticipate spending a few hours at the surgical center or hospital for pre-operative checks, anesthesia, and post-operative monitoring.

Recovery and Aftercare

After cataract surgery, most patients can return home on the same day and resume normal activities within a day or two. It’s common to experience mild discomfort, but this is typically manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers, and prescription eye drops are often provided to prevent infection and promote healing. Full visual recovery can take a few weeks as your eye heals, although some patients take longer to heal while others heal faster. 

Cataract surgery is widely recognized for its ability to significantly improve vision and enhance quality of life. If you’re considering cataract surgery, consult with an ophthalmologist to discuss your specific case and expectations for the procedure. If you live in the Washington DC area, request an appointment at Washington Eye Physicians and Surgeons, the area’s top cataract surgeons.