Risks of Cataract Surgery for an Eldery Person Aged 70 Years?

For future reading purposes, we were advised to do cataract surgery as the vision is getting blur. 1. How long does the surgery lasts? 2. Will there any side effect that need to follow up as years go on? 3. Will the cataract return? 4. What to expect after the surgery? 5. What do we need to know in advance before the surgery? Many thanks.

Doctor Answers 9

Cataract Surgery

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Hello and thanks for your great question. Modern cataract surgery is quick and efficient and depending on the circumstances can be performed safely usually between 20 and 30 minutes which would include making incisions, removing the entire cataract with ultrasound waves, and gentle vacuum, and delicate placement of an implant which is clear and allows vision to be stored efficiently in most cases. The cataract will never return however sometimes the public has wondered about this from prior generations where they may have been told they "come back" to simplify a secondary process. This is that in up 50% of cases, the delicate envelope or membrane which holds the implant in place may become clouded. This "film" can be removed permanently with a minor laser surgical procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy. Surgical healing is most often quick and one can expect good visual results between a few days to a few weeks depending on many factors such as age and health of the patient, swelling, length of surgery, complexity of the cataract, and many other factors including pre-existing diseases. Regardless, cataract surgery performed in the US is considered a very safe and effective method for restoration of vision in many patients where the cataract is deemed the reason for visual blur in the first place. One must be absolutely certain before cataract surgery that the cataract is indeed the reason for the visual issues, as other problems can cause visual blur. In addition, the patient must be in good health to undergo cataract surgery, which is considered an elective procedure.

Jacksonville Ophthalmologist

Cataract Surgery Information

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1. The surgery last about ten minutes. 

2. There are typically no side effects other than improved vision. 


3. The original cataract will not return, but a secondary cataract can sometimes grown called a posterior sub-capsular opacity.  If this happens, you will not need a second surgery as it can usually be treated in the office with a laser.


4. After the surgery your vision should begin to improve the next day.  You will need to take drops for a week or more and wear protective goggles to sleep.  You will also be asked to avoid heavy lifting and exercise for a week or more.


5. Before the surgery you need to be clear on your post op instructions and give yourself the day of surgery to rest. Also, no heavy lifting and exercise for a week or so.

Michael K. Tracy, MD
San Diego Ophthalmologist

Cataract Surgery

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Everyone who lives long enough will eventually develop cataracts.  A cataract is when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy.  I tell patients that the time for cataract surgery is when you cannot see to do what you want to do.  Cataract surgery, in competent hands, is quick, painless and has an extremely high success rate.  Age is not a factor, but your surgeon should be aware of your medical history.

Mark Golden, MD
Chicago Ophthalmologist

Cataract surgery lasts about 15 minutes

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The surgery lasts about 15 minutes, and the lens is made of plastic that should lasts the rest of your life.  You still need to check for other eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. The surgery is painless and has the benefit of a rapid recovery and excellent vision results.  The surgeon should offer lots of educational and instructive material.  Looks like you have already begun to do your homework.  Good luck!

Christopher Coad, MD
New York Ophthalmologist

Risks of Cataract Surgery

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Cataract surgery around the age of 70 is quite normal in the U.S. The actual procedure takes aprrox. 15 minutes, however, expect to be at the surgery center 1 1/2 - 2 hours from the time of arrival.  Cataracts are a natural clouding with age of the human lens and do not recur after surgery.  There are additional procedures that may be necessary including clearing of the posterior capsule with a laser months to years after the initial procedure (takes about 5 minutes and painless). The vast majority of people have significantly better vison post-operatively and have little down time and side effects.  There are now many different lens options which you should understand and review with your surgeon.

Jay Bansal, MD
San Francisco Ophthalmologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Cataract at age 70

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It is pretty much assured that if we live long enough we will all get a cataract, so age 70 is right on track. Essentially, a cataract is the natural aging of the human lens. This aging process creates a gradual yellowing, then browning of the lens that reduces quality of vision over a period of years. The surgical process is quite routine now and very different from anything your grandmother had. It is an outpatient procedure taking about 10-15 minutes, although you are at the facility for about 90 minutes. The natural lens(now a cataract) is removed ultrasonically and the new lens(a plastic material used for the past 45 years) is placed into position. You will leave the Center with a clear shield over the eye and, generally, see a vast improvement in vision within 24 hours, returning to full activity in 2-3 days. There have been tremendous advancements in the types of intraocular lenses placed in the eye, now giving us the ability to not only improve your distance vision, but also correct astigmatism and presbyopia(the reading problem), enabling greater independence from spectacles or contacts afterwards. There are several informative videos on my website that describe the process in more detail. It is an exciting time to have cataract surgery!

Anthony J. Kameen, MD
Baltimore Ophthalmologist

Everyone Gets a Cataract

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  1. Cataract surgery usually lasts 15-30 minutes.
  2. As long as there are no other problems with your eyes, extended follow-up is minimal
  3. The cataract itself, is a continuously growing lens, which is removed during surgery and replaced with an implant.  It does not return, but about 20% of the time scar tissue can grow over the back of the lens implant, requiring an in-office laser procedure.
  4. After surgery you will see your ophthalmologist and need to be on drops for about 4 weeks
  5. Measurements will be taken to determine the correct lens implant and sometimes drops are started ahead of time.

As we age, the lens in our eye grows and that becomes the cataract.  With improved life expectancy, it is more common that we are doing cataract surgery on 70 year olds and much older!

Michelle Crosby, MD, PhD
Encinitas Ophthalmologist

The most common surgery performed in the world

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The actual surgery portion of cataract surgery usually lasts only about 15 minutes, but you'll have to show up around an hour ahead to allow dilation drops to work.  The surgery should last forever.  The most common side effect, posterior capsule opacification, is scar tissue forming behind the lens implant.  This "after-cataract" is typically easily treated with a laser.  Notice, however, that the cataract itself is not removed with a laser, but rather emulsified with ultrasound (sound wave) energy.  

For most patients, recovery consists of a few days of eye scratchiness, use of eye ointments or eyedrops for 1-4 weeks and 3 follow-up visits (1 day, 1 week, 1 month).

Although cataract surgery is probably the most successful major surgery performed on humans, it's still surgery and can have complications (bleeding, infection, glaucoma, retinal detachment, excessive refractive error, implant dislocation).  Good luck!

Benjamin Ticho, MD
Chicago Ophthalmologist

And now we are using lasers to help remove cataracts.

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Cataract surgery is safer and more effective than ever before. The success rate is extremely high. The equipment used to remove cataracts has steadily improved over the years. In fact, I had the opportunity to be the second surgeon in the US to remove cataracts using a femtosecond laser. I'm not prepared to say that this new technology is superior as of yet, but we are gathering data and if it truly is safer and more effective than the excellent methods we have currently, laser assisted cataract removal will become prevalent.

Steven J. Dell M.D.

Steven Dell, MD
Austin Ophthalmologist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.