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Preparing for Cataract Surgery


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At Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, we provide the information and support you need to prepare for cataract surgery. From diagnosis through treatment and recovery, we are with you every step of the way.

Who Will Help Me Prepare for My Surgery?

The cataract surgery team at Bascom Palmer works together to create an individualized treatment plan that will result in successful surgery. After your initial eye examination and consultation with your ophthalmic surgeon, you are assigned a surgical coordinator. The coordinator will help you schedule a date for your surgery and will work with your insurance company to handle any financial logistics.

Patients scheduled for surgery must complete a pre-operative evaluation within 30 days of surgery. This visit may be scheduled at the hospital or with your own provider, depending on your surgery location. If your appointment is scheduled at the hospital, please expect your appointment to last several hours. You may need COVID-19 testing prior to surgery. Your coordinator will guide you through this process.

Be sure to read all the materials and follow all the pre-operative instructions provided to you by your doctor. We recommend that you stop using all types of contact lenses two weeks before your appointment. 

Financial Clearance

The financial team at Bascom Palmer works with you to get approval from your health insurance company or Medicare before cataract surgery. You may be responsible for upfront costs or deductibles before your surgery takes place.

Time of Surgery

The day before your surgery, we will call you after 2 p.m. to provide you with the exact time to arrive for your procedure. If scheduled on a Monday or the day following a holiday, you will be called on the business day before the holiday. You will be given instructions regarding how to prepare you for the following day's surgical procedure. Although cataract surgery is quick and painless, plan to spend the day at Bascom Palmer to prepare for and to recover from surgery. Rest assured, cataract surgery is a “same-day” procedure. You will not need to stay overnight in the hospital.

Day of Surgery

On the day of your surgery, please proceed to the facility’s main entrance. You may be asked to wear a hospital provided mask and will be directed to register.

To ensure a safe environment in our outpatient areas, the space for visitors may be restricted and subject to the current COVID-19 protocols. To learn more about our COVID-19 protocols Follow our COVID Visitor Guidelines. Pediatric patients (under 18 years of age) must be accompanied by one adult.

Most important, you must arrange for a responsible adult to take you home from the hospital following your surgery. You will not be discharged alone following surgery. There will be no exceptions to this rule. This escort MUST be available the morning of your procedure by phone to confirm their availability for you to start your preparation for surgery. Failure to comply may result in the cancellation or postponement of your surgery.

Tips for the Day

  • Bring your photo ID and health insurance cards
  • Bring your prescribed medications and/or eye drops as instructed by your surgeon
  • Do not wear facial makeup, false lashes, perfume, hairspray, body lotion or powder. You may use antiperspirant or deodorant.
  • Dress in loose, comfortable clothes
  • Follow the fasting guidelines
  • Leave valuables and jewelry at home
  • Schedule a relative or friend to drive you home after surgery 

Pre-Operative Care

Once you have been checked in, you will be taken to the Ambulatory Surgery area, where our nursing staff will prepare you for your procedure. Upon your arrival to this unit, the individual you have designated as your point person will be contacted and kept abreast of all updates throughout your procedure and post-operative care via text message or phone calls.

You will also meet an anesthesia care provider who will evaluate your anesthesia needs and explain the medication(s) you will receive to keep you comfortable during the procedure.

When ready, you will be transported to the operating room. This is a specially equipped, sterile room where your procedure will take place. Again, the surgical team will keep your designated point person updated on your progress via text messages or phone calls.

If your child is having surgery, only one parent or guardian can accompany your child into the surgical holding area. Please bring bottles, formula, diapers, and the child’s favorite toys with you.

What to Expect During Surgery

Although cataract surgery itself can take less than 20 minutes and is performed as an outpatient or same day surgery, please plan for your total surgical experience to take several hours.

Using a special microscope, your surgeon examines the inside of your eye. They then make an incision in the front of the eye. Your lens sits behind the iris within a pouch called the lens capsule. The cataract lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens that is customized based on your medical and ocular history. The capsule is left in place.

To remove the lens, your doctor may:

  • Use an ultrasound probe to break up the lens and remove the pieces with gentle suction (phacoemulsification)
  • Remove the entire lens as one piece through a larger incision (extracapsular surgery)

Your surgeon will then insert your new lens into the lens capsule. Your surgeon may place a protective eye patch over your eye.

What to Expect After Surgery

After your procedure, you will return to the ambulatory surgical services area where nursing staff with monitor your recovery until you are stable enough to go home.

Most ambulatory surgery patients are discharged within one hour after surgery, however recovery times may vary based on the individual, the procedure or surgeon's instructions.

After your procedure It is normal for you to have mild symptoms for a day or two, such as:

  • Blurry vision
  • Itching
  • Mild discomfort
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Watery discharge in the treated eye

Your doctor may prescribe eye drops to:

  • Control the pressure inside your eye
  • Prevent infection
  • Promote healing

You will receive discharge instructions and a follow-up appointment with your surgeon. It is important that you keep your post-operative appointment so that your eye heals well.

Follow-Up Appointments

Your surgeon and surgical coordinator will determine how often you need to be seen at Bascom Palmer after your surgery. Your post-operative exams may be conducted by our skilled optometry service or by your local eye care provider. It is important to keep your post-operative appointments so that your eye heals well. Most patients will follow a post-operative exam schedule like this one:

  • Same day or one day after surgery
  • A few days after surgery
  • A week after surgery
  • A month after surgery

Post-Operative Instructions

You will leave the hospital with a clear shield that we ask you to wear for the first 24 hours (removed only to instill drops). You will also wear this shield at night for one week. With the shield in place, you may sleep on either side. It does not need to be worn during the day.

Your surgeon will provide you with detailed instructions for your at-home care. For one week do not rub your eye, lift anything heavier than twenty pounds and avoid swimming. All other activities are ok. For example, you can take a shower and wash your face. You can walk, watch TV, and read.

It will generally take about eight weeks for your eye to completely heal after cataract surgery.

YAG Capsulotomy

A secondary cataract may develop after surgery. This is called posterior capsule opacification. Cloudiness builds up on the surface of the capsule that holds the lens.

Your doctor can repair the lens capsule with a five-minute laser surgery called yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) laser capsulotomy. The laser creates a tiny hole in the capsule to let light pass through.

Your vision will improve within 24 hours after the procedure.

Support Services

When you come to Bascom Palmer for cataract surgery, we provide you with the support you need for a successful outcome. We help you and your family understand what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.

If you need help at home during recovery, we connect you with a case manager or social worker. We also match you with services from community agencies and programs that can help meet your needs.

Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?

Leaders in cataract care. In 2021, U.S. News & World Report ranked Bascom Palmer as the No. 1 eye hospital in the nation for the 20th time. Our world-class surgeons are regarded as leaders in the field of cataract surgery. When you come to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute for care, you have access to the widest selection of lens options and advanced technologies available.

Research-driven treatments. A hospital-based surgical center affiliated with the University of Miami Health System, we care for patients with a variety of medical concerns and conditions. As the region’s only academic medical center, our surgeons and staff stay current with the latest developments in cataract care.

Advanced treatment. A leader in cutting-edge innovation, research, and patient care, Bascom Palmer uses every available diagnostic tool and technology to perform surgery with the utmost precision and safety.

Compassionate care you can trust. Your cataract team of surgeons, nurses, optometrists, and technicians speaks with you and your family about every aspect of your cataract procedure. We listen to your concerns and answer all your questions. We guide you through the entire process with the highest degree of expertise and compassion.

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