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Do I Need Glasses After Cataract Surgery? And 5 Other Common Questions – ANSWERED

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Cataracts normally develop over many years and gradually reduce our vision, though they can appear in months for some types.

There are surgeries available to remove cataracts and significantly improve your sight and quality of life. One of the most common questions we’re asked is “Do I need glasses after cataract surgery?”.

In this blog, we’ll answer that as well as five other frequently asked questions about cataract surgery.

  • Do I Need Glasses After Cataract Surgery?
  • What Happens During Cataract Surgery?
  • Is Cataract Surgery Safe?
  • How Long is Recovery After Cataract Surgery?
  • How Much Does Your Vision Improve?
  • How Do You Choose the Right Surgeon?

Do I Need Glasses After Cataract Surgery?

The short answer is that it depends. Many people don’t have to wear glasses again after modern cataract surgery but this isn’t guaranteed. Your surgeon will determine whether or not you need to wear glasses again and find the best solution to suit you.

If you have the surgery through the NHS, then you’ll be given monofocal lenses during surgery. This kind of lens has a single point of focus, meaning that it’ll be fixed for near or far distance vision, but not both. This means you likely will still need glasses.

But, some private clinics offer multifocal lenses that allow your eyes to focus on both near and far distances.

This would remove the need for glasses for most or all of the time, but they will still be needed for some tasks, like fine-print reading.

More than 80 percent of patients are fully glasses-free after lens surgery using premium multifocal implants.

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What Happens During Cataract Surgery?

The cataract surgery itself is straightforward and takes only 10-15 minutes to complete, so there’s no need for an overnight stay in a hospital.

It’s the most common operation of any specialty performed in the UK, with around 400,000 procedures carried out each year.

The procedure itself is known as phacoemulsification and involves removing the opaque cataract and replacing it with a new, clear implant that’s known as an intraocular lens.

You’ll be given a local anesthetic to numb the eye, but you’ll be awake during the procedure.

The opaque cataract is broken up into smaller pieces using high-frequency ultrasound (phacoemulsification, or phaco for short), before being carefully removed by suction.

Because cataract surgeries have been carried out since 1950, the procedure has evolved to be less invasive.

For example, the phacoemulsification process is performed with much smaller incisions than in the past, meaning there’s less risk, less recovery time and no sutures are needed.

Once the cataract is removed, an implant (intraocular lens, IOL) is inserted in the now vacant space. The surgeon then seals the micro-incision in your eye and places a protective plastic shield in place to protect the area while it heals.

Is Cataract Surgery Safe?

Cataract surgery is considered a safe and effective procedure. Because it’s such a common surgery that’s been performed for so many decades, the chance of complications has fallen greatly over the years.

The surgery has a high success rate. Some of the possible side effects are inflammation, slight swelling or retinal detachment.

After the surgery has been completed, you might have appointments with the doctor to see how things are progressing. If there are any issues at all, discuss them with your doctor and they’ll be able to take the necessary steps.

If you have any concerns or worries regarding your surgery, then don’t hesitate to book a consultation with your provider.

The clinic or hospital staff can talk you through the procedure and answer any questions you may have to put your mind at ease.

How Long is The Recovery After Cataract Surgery?

You’ll visit the clinic again in the days and weeks after your surgery for post-treatment checks but you should see good vision restored within 48 hours.

Your vision will be tested to see how it’s improving and the surgeon might check for any signs of inflammation or infection.

To combat infection, you’ll be given eye drops to take at home and a shield to wear when sleeping.

The best way to prevent any post-op complications from developing is by following your surgeon’s advice. They may tell you to avoid strenuous activity, exercise and any activity that would expose your eye to water, dust or dirt.

If cataract surgery is needed in both of your eyes, then you’ll need to wait one or more weeks between the procedures to give the first eye the chance to heal and for your vision to improve.

How Much Does Your Vision Improve?

Different people experience different results following cataract surgery, but as a general rule, you should be able to see things in focus and see different colours in greater clarity.

Cataracts can dull what are usually bright colours so once it’s been removed you should notice an improvement.

You’ll be less sensitive to bright lights and not see as much glare, but if you have other existing eye conditions, like glaucoma, then you may still have limited vision.

Before the procedure, your surgeon should outline expectations of how your vision will improve, so you’ll have an idea of what to expect once you’ve recovered.

It can take a week or two for your eye to completely heal so make sure to follow the surgeon’s advice to reduce any risk of problems developing.

How Do You Choose the Right Surgeon?

We understand that a procedure of any kind can be stressful and scary, so it’s vital you find the right surgeon who’ll be able to put your mind at ease and carry out a successful surgery.

Look for an experienced surgeon that works with you to find the right solution to suit your wants and needs.

Browse online reviews of clinics to see how other people like you have rated their experience.

Don’t settle for above average, you need the best of the best.

Some clinics will hide fees and costs behind enticing offers, so choose one that’s upfront about their costs.

Similarly, find out what you’re getting for your money. The best clinics offer extensive post-operative care and include post-operative adjustments, e.g. laser enhancement, with cataract procedures.

If you have cataracts and you’re looking into your options, then make sure to download our comprehensive guide. It features everything you need to know about treatments, benefits and the costs.

Download our free guide now using the link below.

Cataract Surgery Guide Banner

About the Author

Mr David Allamby is the founder and medical director of Focus Clinic - the leading provider of laser eye surgery in London. Focus’ commitment is to be the #1 clinic for vision outcome results with 100% of patients achieving 20/20 vision or even better. He is one of a limited number of UK surgeons who work in laser refractive surgery full-time.


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