Cataract Surgery and Pain

One of the most common reasons individuals suffering from cataracts prolongs their decision to get surgery is that they are concerned it might be painful. Your eyes are a highly sensitive region of your body, so it is natural to feel anxious about a surgical instrument or laser entering your eyes.

If pain is your primary concern, take heart. Patients experience little to no discomfort during cataract surgery, even though they are kept awake during the procedure. Your medical team will take steps to ensure that you do not feel any pain or discomfort before or during surgery. Chances are you won’t even remember much of your cataract surgery experience due to the sedative medication used.

Preventing Pain During Cataract Surgery

Before cataract surgery, the patient is typically given a mild sedative, such as Valium to help them relax and feel comfortable during surgery. This will be followed by anesthetic eye drops to numb the eye and the region around it, preventing the possibility of pain or discomfort.

Your surgeon may offer you the option to receive additional sedative medication, often administered intravenously to ensure you remain calm and comfortable. Cataract surgery does not use general anesthesia as this allows the patient to remain awake and let the surgeon know how they’re feeling throughout the procedure.

During the procedure, a special speculum will be used to hold your eyes open gently – but this does not cause any discomfort or pain. Patients may feel some slight pressure while the cataract is being broken down and replaced with an IOL. However, these steps are quick and do not cause any pain. Overall, the surgery takes only 15 minutes to complete.

Is There Pain After Cataract Surgery

As your medications wear off, you may start feeling some minor discomfort following surgery. This can easily be managed using over-the-counter pain medication. Your doctor will advise you on how to handle any discomfort after surgery before you leave the surgery center.

The following are some common symptoms patients may experience after cataract surgery:

  • Blurry or hazy vision
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy or irritated eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Feeling as though something is stuck in your eye (foreign body sensation)

Note that the above symptoms are temporary and will subside within a few days. If you feel any discomfort or pain after surgery, your doctor may recommend a prescription or over-the-counter pain medication to help you recover smoothly. In most cases, patients are able to see clearly and return to work and driving by the end of the first week of surgery.

If your symptoms persist for more than a week or if you experience severe eye pain, redness or any other symptom after surgery, seek medical help immediately.