Northwest Office:
520.888.6600

Eastside Office:
520.795.4202

Cataract Surgery FAQ's

What is a cataract?
How do you know if you have a cataract?
What do people with cataracts often say about their vision?
What causes cataracts?
Who needs cataract surgery?
How is a cataract removed?
Are cataracts removed with lasers?
How does surgery differ with Laser vs. Traditional surgery?
Is the Lensx Femtosecond laser covered by my insurance?
What are the risks of cataract surgery?
How small is “small incision”?
What about “no stitch surgery”?
Will I need a lens implant?
How is the lens implant held in place?
How long will it take to recover from surgery?
What limitations will I have after surgery?
Will I be able to drive myself home after surgery?
Will I need any new eye medications before surgery?
What happens on the day of surgery?
Will I be asleep during surgery?
Do you check my eyes after surgery?
Will I see 20/20 after the cataract is removed?
After my first postoperative visit will I need to return?
Will I need glasses after surgery?
Are there new lens implants that will work for both near and far vision?
Are there any lens implants that will work if I have astigmatism?
Frequently asked questions about the Alcon ReSTOR Multifocal Lens
Do you offer financing?
Are both eyes operated on at the same time?
Can the cataract come back?
I want to have surgery. What else do I need to do?

What is a cataract?

A cataract is clouding that develops inside the natural lens of your eye. This cloud blocks the light passing through the lens, which may impair and distort your vision.

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How do you know if you have a cataract?

The first sign of a cataract is usually cloudy or distorted vision. The cloud is often perceived as yellow-brown or gray. You may be bothered by poor depth perception, halos around lights at night or glare. Some patients complain of difficulty seeing street signs and reading.

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What do people with cataracts often say about their vision?

This may include the following:

"I have trouble reading small print."

"I have trouble driving because of poor vision."

"I had difficulty passing the vision test for a driver’s license."

"Glare at night or bright lights affect my vision."

"My glasses prescription needs to be changed frequently."

"My glasses always seem dirty."

"I can't see street signs when I'm driving."

"It's hard to see the golf ball."

"I’m having trouble sewing, seeing my cell phone screen or working on a tablet."

"I see halos around light or have double image vision."

"Colors do not look right."

"I have trouble recognizing faces.”

"It’s becoming more difficult to write checks or fill out forms.”

"I can't read the computer screen.”

"The television is not clear. I can't read the words on the screen.”

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What Causes Cataracts?

Cataracts have many causes. They may include the following:

  • Aging (most common cause)
  • Diabetes and some other diseases
  • Medicines (especially steroids)
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Previous eye injury
  • Possibly excessive sunlight

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Who needs cataract surgery?

Years ago, patients were told to wait until the cataract was"ripe"."Ripe" meant blind. No one should wait for blindness. Today we have modern techniques that can help long before blindness. Most patients request surgical treatment for cataracts when they cannot function adequately due to poor eyesight.

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How is a cataract removed?

We use a small incision phacoemulsification (ultrasound) method. The surgeon, aided by a computer controlled ultrasonic device, removes the cataract. The surgery is done under a local anesthetic and for most patients is painless. It takes about 15 minutes to perform.

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Can a laser be used as part of the procedure to remove the cataract?

Yes. We are happy to announce that the surgeons at Eye Associates of Tucson are among a select group of doctors to perform laser assisted bladeless cataract surgery in the United States. Dr. Diesenhouse and Dr. McCarty are among the first surgeons in Southern Arizona to offer laser cataract surgery.

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How does surgery differ with Laser vs. Traditional surgery?

Laser assisted cataract surgery is bladeless cataract surgery. LensSx Femtosecond laser is a computer- guided, surgeon controlled laser that is used for greater surgical precision. It has the potential to eliminate surgical blades during cataract surgery. A custom-guided laser is programmed for the most precise treatment on each individual patient. The femtosecond laser automates what are typically very challenging steps in traditional cataract surgery and also minimizes astigmatism via laser rather than a manual incision during the time of cataract surgery. This can lessen the need for glasses post operatively.

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Is the Lensx Femtosecond laser covered by my insurance?

No. This is a non-covered expense. There is an additional charge for laser assisted bladeless cataract surgery.

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What are the risks of cataract surgery?

As you know, all surgeries carry some risk. With respect to cataract surgery, there is always the possibility that a complication may arise during or after surgery. We always explain these risks before surgery. The major risks of surgery include: bleeding, infection and problems with the retina.

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How small is “small incision”?

With use of foldable intraocular lens implants, the incision has been reduced to about 1/16th of an inch. This allows for a faster recovery from surgery. Like with other types of surgery, the small incision technique has made a good operation even better.

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"What about “no stitch surgery”?

With the older conventional cataract surgery, a large incision was needed. This larger incision required several nylon sutures to safely secure the eye. The use of multiple sutures can cause a change in the shape of the eye or astigmatism. The stitches can be irritating and sometimes need to be removed. We use a self-sealing incision that usually does not require any suture at all.

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Will I need a lens implant?

After your cataract is removed you will need a lens to see properly. A new lens is implanted at the time of cataract surgery. This restores your eye to a near natural state. The lens should last the rest of your life. The lens implant is a new manufactured lens and is not a transplant or donated lens.

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How is the lens implant held in place?

The new lens is not stitched or clipped in place. It is designed to fit into the capsule or shell remaining from the original lens (cataract). Your new implant will most likely never need to be changed, cleaned, or replaced.

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How long will it take to recover from surgery?

You may see clearly on the very first day after surgery. Most patients agree that vision returns quickly. Some patients may experience slightly blurred vision for a few weeks.

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What limitations will I have after surgery?

We recommend that you do not do any heavy lifting, bending or strenuous activity for one week. It is also recommended that you do not swim for two weeks.

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Will I be able to drive myself home after surgery?

No, you will be unable to drive the day of surgery. We also recommend that you be driven to your first day postoperative appointment. Most patients, after checking with their doctor, return to driving 24 hours following surgery.

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Will I need any new eye medications before surgery?

 Yes. You will need eye drops before and after surgery. Prescriptions for medications, dosages and instrucions will be provided.

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What happens on the day of surgery?

Surgery is done on an outpatient basis. You may not eat or drink anything eight (8) hours before surgery. You should wear comfortable clothing and avoid eye makeup. Wear a loose fitting shirt. When you arrive for surgery, you will be given eye drops and perhaps a sedative to help you relax. A local anesthetic will numb your eye. The skin around your eye will be cleansed, and a sterile covering will be placed. You may see light and movement but you will not be able to see the surgery while it is happening. If you get cold easily, you may want to bring warm clothing.

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Will I be asleep during surgery?

General anesthesia is not necessary for routine cataract surgery. Nearly all cataract surgery can be done by topical anesthetic . For this reason we use a local anesthesia with sedation. Most patients do not experience any pain.

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Do you check my eyes after surgery?

Yes. You need to return to the clinic the day after surgery, or sometimes, the same day as surgery if your surgery is in the morning. One of the doctors in our group will check your eye and the technician will go over postoperative instructions with you.

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Will I see 20/20 after the cataract is removed?

You should be able to see as well as you saw before you developed the cataract. It is not uncommon for vision to be blurry in the first few days after surgery. Many people do see 20/20. This is not true for everyone. Glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration may prevent perfect vision.

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After my first postoperative visit will I need to return?

Yes. We schedule another visit two weeks later and then within three months from surgery. Of course, you can have as many appointments as you need. A prescription if needed for a new pair of glasses will be given when your eye condition is stable. This is usually at the two week visit or sooner.

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Will I need glasses after surgery?

Most people will require glasses to fine-tune their vision after surgery. However, it is common for patients after cataract surgery to require glasses only for reading and not for distance vision. Some patients request near or monovision glasses for distance vision.  It is more likely to require glasses if you have an astigmatism in your glasses prescription.

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Are there new lens implants that will work for both near and far vision?

Yes. There are now new advanced technology lens implants that can provide patients with an increased freedom from glasses. These implants are called multifocal or accommodating lenses. The doctor will let you know if you are good candidate for a premium lens.

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Are there any lens implants that will work if I have astigmatism?

Yes. There is a lens called the “Acrysof Toric” implant that can correct corneal astigmatism. The reduction of astigmatism can decrease your dependency on glasses for distance vision. You will still need glasses for reading however most patients are able to read comfortably with over the counter reading glasses.

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Do you offer financing?

Yes. We are registered with Care Credit. If you would like an application please ask our receptionists. You can also apply online at www.carecredit.com or call 800-365-8295 to apply today.

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Are both eyes operated on at the same time?

No. To be safe, only one eye is operated on at a time. You can have surgery on the second eye as soon as two weeks later. There are certain circumstances when we do recommend waiting longer.

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Can the cataract come back?

No. But later, some patients notice their vision isn't as good as it was after surgery. This is usually due to what we call a secondary cataract. It is a hazy area that sometimes develops on the backside of the lens implant. This can happen months or even years after successful cataract surgery. A secondary cataract can be corrected quickly and easily using the YAG laser. The laser procedure takes just a few minutes. It is painless and does not require anesthesia.

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I want to have surgery. What else do I need to do?

Prior to surgery we need to do an A-scan. This test measures your eye to allow us to select the correct lens implant for your eye. If you wear contact lenses please remove them 3 days prior to the ASCAN measurements. Leaving contact lenses out allows your cornea to return to its natural shape and gives us more accurate readings.

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What is the Alcon ReSTOR Multifocal Lens>

The ReSTOR® lens is a multifocal lens implant that is designed to replace the natural lens of the eye after cataract surgery is performed. Comprised of a flexible plastic material, the ReSTOR® lens has a patented design that allows it to focus light on the retina for clear vision at near, far, and intermediate distances. Alcon has a patent for the application of apodization technology to an IOL, making the ReSTOR® lens the first apodized diffractive IOL.

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