Many patients have a great deal of anxiety about the day of surgery and what it will be like. This,of course,is very understandable. Knowing what to expect, ahead of time, can greatly reduce the stress level.
Starting several weeks prior to the big day, you will have had your complete exam by the doctor(s), decided to proceed with surgery and met various members of the office team. You will have chosen what type of lens implant you desire at the time of your cataract removal and will have picked up your eye drops, starting the antibiotic and non-steroidal drops forty-eight hours prior to the procedure. You will have been “cleared” for surgery by your primary medical doctor and had a physical, if necessary.
All of the above was the hard part. The good news is that arriving for surgery and getting through this is really the easy part!
You will come to your chosen surgery center or hospital on an empty stomach, nothing to eat or drink after bedtime (except morning medicines with a small sip of water). After all of the necessary paperwork is complete and any co-pay is made, the staff will lead you to the holding area where you will be given a gown to be placed over your clothing (no need to change!) and an intravenous line will be placed in your arm for sedation purposes. Many eye drops, to numb it and dilate it for surgery, will be put into your eye. A member of the anesthesia team, whose job it is to keep your comfortable during surgery, will stop by and interview you. Expect a lot of activity around you during all of this as surgery centers and hospitals are busy places and other patients will be getting ready for their surgery as well.
When it’s your turn, you will be taken to the operating room, a cool and bright area where you will lie flat on a stretcher and have a warm blanket placed over you. The staff will make you as comfortable as possible, but remember, the procedure is short and you will not be in the operating room for long!
You will be given intravenous sedation and become very relaxed, but not necessarily falling asleep. Many patients are shocked to find out that we can even perform the procedure while having a conversation! More sedation and numbing drops can be given as necessary.
Finally, the moment has arrived! The cataract is removed by a process called phacoemulsification, where sound waves break up the cloudy lens material and it is removed from the eye by aspiration. While the sensation of water running over your eye is normal at this stage, you will be amazed at how comfortable you will be! Many patients comment on the beautiful, bright lights they see during the procedure and many even participate in the operating room conversation!
That’s it! The surgery is complete and successful in a snap (or should I say,the “blink of an eye?”)! We will discuss what’s next, the post-operative recovery, trip home and the first post-operative visit in a future blog.