So You’re Having Cataract Surgery: A Picture Story for Nervous Adults

A case of “the nerves” sometimes attacks when a person doesn’t know what to expect. I experienced such jitters, so maybe my little story can help tame your fears!

During a regular checkup, my eye doctor told me I had cataracts. Those are like clouds in your eyes and not in a good way. The doctor said I should have an eye surgeon remove them.

In the past, I’ve had a few operations. And I knew this was a common eye procedure. But I was so dang scared of anyone fooling with my eyes. I put that decision off for YEARS!

Finally, my glasses no longer helped me see well enough. The time had come to face facts. I needed operations to remove cataracts from both eyes!

One of my friends had already had cataract surgery and really liked the doctor. I asked him for the surgeon’s name. Before I could change my mind, I made the call.

The first appointment was a lot like a regular eye doctor visit. This included me trying to see and guessing at fuzzy letters. The medical worker also put drops in my eyes to dilate them for other tests.

Even more drops numbed my eyeballs. They did that to lightly touch them with an instrument to check the pressure. I had trouble keeping my eyes open for that test!

I also suffered from what they called “dry eye.” They told me to use artificial tear eyedrops at home for several weeks. Then I went back for pre-surgery eye measurements.

An office person gave me two appointments because they usually operate on one eye at a time. “Leftie” was the cloudiest and would be fixed first.

With my dates in mind, I set up transportation. I also filled out online medical forms for the surgery center.

The day before my first operation, I had to start using special drops in Leftie. I would use those according to a schedule for many days and was still using them when I prepared “Rightie” for surgery. I won’t lie. Those drops burned a bit. But they were super important to keep my eyes safe!

The night before eye surgery, I had to stop eating or drinking by midnight. My stomach had to be empty when they used anesthesia to help me feel calm during the operation.

The morning of the big day, I arrived at the center before sunrise. With check-in completed, the minutes dragged by. I wanted the entire experience behind me.

After what felt like forever, someone led me into the inner rooms. Friendly medical workers baptized Leftie with many types of drops to dilate and also prevent pain and infection during the procedure.

When my turn had almost arrived, they asked if I wanted to use the bathroom. “Yes, please,” even though my last drink was hours before, and I’d only taken a sip of water with my morning pill.

One understanding person assured me I could have my choice of beverage soon after the procedure. Margaritas were not on the list. But a soda, which I rarely drink, sounded very good.

They gave me a net for my hair, a cotton gown to wear on my top half, and slipper socks for my feet. The temperature in that area was kept chilly. I was happy my comfortable jeans could stay in place.

The doctor and the anesthesiologist took turns coming into the little room to talk with me. Then, a medical worker numbed my hand and inserted an IV tube with a little needle prick, so I would be ready for the anesthetic. They also stuck a few small patches onto my chest to help track my heart during the operation.

Next, someone came and whisked me away in a wheelchair to the operating table. Easy-peasy. I felt pretty calm by then. They placed something soft under and around my head to help it stay in place.

After seeing my doctor show up, I remember little except voices and lots of colored lights in Leftie. The next thing I knew, the operation was over! They helped me sit up slowly and guided me back to the wheelchair.

I have hazy memories from the next few minutes. Soon, a person wheeled me back to the small room and then outside to meet my daughter. Whee! I wore special sunglasses because my eyes were dilated to the max. To others, I probably looked more like an alien from outer space than a movie star.

At home, I had to avoid lifting and bending for a few days. I felt extra tired that afternoon and binge-watched a favorite TV show. I slept VERY WELL that night.

The next day, I went to the doctor for a recheck to test Leftie’s sight and pressure. Everything was good! I would go back in about a week for another recheck. My glasses no longer worked for me, so I needed someone else to drive.

The date for Rightie’s operation would arrive in a few weeks. I didn’t feel quite as nervous about that because I knew what to expect! Meanwhile, I used the special drops in Leftie and kept watch on the calendar for the day to start them in Rightie.

Being humans, we’re each different. You might wonder what made me the most nervous. I admit to worrying a lot about them touching my eyeball to measure the pressure at each checkup. I’m a world-class blinker and can’t stop when something comes at my eyeball!

I felt a little better after sharing my struggle about that with the kind and gentle medical workers. And I tried anxiety-calming techniques, like deep breathing and counting combined with breathing. I also tried distractions, like thinking about other sensory things in the room (what I could hear and smell, for example).

Of course, various doctors and surgery centers do things in different ways. But if any part of the cataract removal process makes you nervous, you might try those relaxation ideas. I hope reading about my positive experience helps you win against your own jitters!

EPILOGUE: Try to be flexible. The date for Rightie’s operation was changed by the surgery center just a day in advance. But I now have two “new eyes!” Becky

(Images from Pixabay)

84 thoughts on “So You’re Having Cataract Surgery: A Picture Story for Nervous Adults

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Becky.. I’m glad it worked out well for you. My husband also had cataracts removed, and his procedure went smoothly. Today’s surgical tools means, I think, that it’s much easier for the surgeon to do the job without being too invasive. And the end result is, you see better, so what’s not to like?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 15 years ago I also had cataract surgery but it was nothing traumatic. Instead you tell a story with a fairly complicated process. At least everything went smoothly and that’s what matters most. Health comes first so your advice is very important for people who have to have surgery. Greetings, Becky.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I so enjoyed this. I had my own cataracts removed and new lenses implanted in 2015, and I haven’t had a problem since. I still have 20/20 vision, and my glaucoma is well under control. My experience was somewhat different from yours, as I was partly awake for my first eye and fully awake for the second — which only took 15 minutes. It was actually pretty fun watching the surgeon work with #2! I wrote about it — you might enjoy my story, and I know you’ll enjoy the song at the end!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well told, Becky. I’ve always been curious about how the procedure works. How soon can you tell if the operation was a success? Does anyone ever need cataract surgery a second time?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pete, I’m happy you like it! You go to the dr. for a recheck the very next day just to be sure that healing is moving along correctly. You’ll go back in for another recheck in another week or two, depending on how your dr. does things. The success rate is very high, as long as you follow the post-op instructions. Cataracts do NOT grow back!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you very much for writing this, Becky. At my routine check up last week I was told I have the beginnings of cataracts and will at some point need surgery. I was already fretting about it and you have been so reassuring.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you so much for this, Becky. Glad it went well for you. I have several (slightly older) friends who’ve had this recently and it took several weeks sometimes for things to settle down. Not the easy, all-over-in-24- hours thing we’re told to expect, but life changing in the end. Beautifully written as always, and I love the pictures

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I understand about being nervous. I only have one eye that does most of the work and really didn’t want to risk it but it got so bad that even my eye that didn’t function all that well was also causing distortion problems so I gave in and had them both done at different times. It was worth it and I could see better when it was done. Dry eye is normal as we age. I hated hearing that. 🙂 Glad you had success with it.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great to share the experience, Becky. How does it feel now. My dad reported amazing increase in seeing colour after the first op and was a little disappointed it wasn’t as dramatic when the other eye was done. My theory is that the brain had adapted over time to weaker colour signals and suddenly got a real blast. But second time around would be more used to it. Here’s to your two new eyes!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Maria, thanks for reading! My eyes are doing well and still healing. I mainly notice an overall clarity that I hadn’t been seeing. I went for my first outside walk in years with no glasses last evening. I took readers along just for “emotional support,” I think:)

      Liked by 2 people

  9. My mom had her cataract surgery last year. It is scary, as you say! She was worried but had such a good experience. Thanks for sharing your experience here to help others who are also anxious about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Becky, you’ve clearly provided a great public service to your readers with this post! (Especially those of us who are similarly wired so far as sensitivity and apprehensiveness in general.) I try to remind myself of people all over the world who don’t have access to the surgery & must live visually impaired or effectively blind. I remember too hearing about my grandmother’s surgery in the 1970s – her adult daughter took her out-of-state (to ours) to have it done. Not sure if the surgery was unavailable near their rural area or if what was available couldn’t be trusted! The other piece that stood out in memory was that sandbags were used to keep her head in position.😯 (Having just googled “cataract surgery sandbags” I see it’s worse than I even realized.) I know this surgery is in my future (earliest stages now; my own mission is to slow progression). Thank you again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Colette, it’s good to hear from you, and I hope that all is well! Interesting background about the sandbags, and I’m glad that more modern materials made those unnecessary now! Yes, it certainly makes me think about people who don’t have access because of where they live or because of not having insurance. I imagine cataracts were a leading cause of blindness in the past. I hope it will be a while before you need the surgery, but at least you know that it’s nothing to fear (too much:) Take care!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is such a generous and comprehensive retelling of your experience, Becky. Medical procedures really cause me anxiety and my heart’s pounding a bit just from reading this. But, I’m in absolute agreement about the value of those relaxation techniques. Good on you for making the appointment and getting it done. Congratulations on your new eyes!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good going, Becky!
    I had my cataracts removed about 4 years ago. I did not put it off.
    However, my right eye had a difficult time healing. I was blind in that eye for about 2 weeks. It was all white, not black.
    Never regretted getting the procedure.
    This is a fortunate piece of medical knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Becky! This is very helpful. I had cataract surgery myself in June, and many things above were similar. One of the things that comforted me was that the port was put in my arm prior to going into the surgery, and I could say `Now please` at whatever point I needed to no longer be present during the surgery (i.e. panic was setting in) Especially as an artist, it was extremely stressful for me, but in reality, it could not have gone better. Thanks for posting this.
    Hope you’re well!

    Liked by 1 person

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