Minutes From Clarity: How Long Does Cataract Surgery Take?
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How Long Is Cataract Surgery?

How Long Is Cataract Surgery?

Cataract Surgery
John Bolger|
15/06/2023
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You might be curious about how long cataract surgery is if you or someone you know is thinking about having cataracts removed. We will be discussing the average length of the cataract procedure, providing a step-by-step discussion of pre-surgery and post-surgery requirements that contribute to the total duration of your patient experience.

Understanding Cataract Surgery

Ophthalmologists are trained to perform cataract surgery. Their training combined with their expert experience will lead to more efficient operations in relation to the length of time for cataract surgery. At My-iClinic, Mr John Bolger and Ms Bola Odufuwa are highly trained ophthalmologists who have conducted hundreds of successful cataract surgeries, correcting vision one eye at a time. 

The cataract-affected lens must be removed during surgery and replaced with a substitute intraocular lens (IOL). If you would like to learn more about cataracts, you can read our previous guide on what is a cataract.

How Long Does A Cataract Surgery Take?

The length of cataract surgery can vary based on a number of aspects, including the surgeon's experience, the complexities of the patient's case, and any concurrent treatments. However, when looking at how long cataract surgery is on each eye, the average time required for surgery is between 10 and 15 minutes. 

Although this may seem like a brief procedure, it's crucial to take the pre and post-operative procedures into account.

Type of Cataract Surgery Duration (Minutes)
Standard Phacoemulsification 15-30
Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery (FLACS) 20-45
Manual Extracapsular Cataract Extraction (ECCE) 30-45

Pre-operative Preparation For Cataract Surgery 

In the preparation stages prior to surgery, you will go through a number of diagnostic procedures before the surgery, which could take a couple of hours. These measures include the following:

  • Eye drops will be used to numb the eye throughout the duration of a cataract treatment to ensure your comfort.
  • Dilation: In order to provide the surgeon with a clear view of the lens, your pupil will be dilated using eye drops.
  • Cleaning and preparing the surgical site: The area around your eye will be clinically prepared for the surgery to help in the reduction of surgical site infections.
  • Surgery: Following your extensive preparation, the actual surgery will be performed. Typically, cataract surgery involves the following steps:
  • Making a tiny incision: To reach the hazy lens, a very small incision is created in the cornea.
  • Using energy from ultrasound (phacoemulsification) or a laser, the hazy lens gets broken up, and the minute fragments are then carefully suctioned out to remove the cataract.
  • Inserting the intraocular lens Implant  (IOL): After surgery, a clean vision is provided by carefully positioning an artificial lens in the same location as the natural lens.
  • Closing the wound: Typically, there are no stitches needed because the incision self-heals.

Additional activities are carried out throughout the entirety of the cataract surgery process, which we discuss in ‘How does cataract surgery work?’.

Recovery Following Cataract Surgery

You will be monitored closely for a short time after surgery to make sure there are no difficulties. Following the procedure, you will be given information on how to take care of your eyes, including how to use eye drops, protect your eye, and make follow-up appointments. The overall recovery time following surgery could be several hours.

You may experience blurred vision, sensitivity to light, or difficulty focusing in the first few days after cataract surgery. Your cataract surgeon will give you instructions on what activities you should and shouldn't do after cataract surgery through the recovery period. 

Factors That Determine The Length Of Cataract Surgery? 

The length of time for cataract surgery might vary depending on a number of factors, some of which include:

Case complexity: If there are other eye conditions present, such as glaucoma or retinal problems, the surgery may take longer to treat all of them at once. This is due to the complexities that can arise, which will likely require additional steps to address the other conditions. It is important to discuss all options with your ophthalmologist prior to surgery.

Surgery knowledge: Experienced surgeons with a history of doing several cataract operations typically perform their work more quickly, which largely determines how long cataract surgery takes. Additionally, the risk of complications post-surgery is greatly reduced with surgeons who have a lot of experience.

At My-iClinic, our experienced ophthalmologists have carried out many cataract surgeries for patients in need of removing their cataracts and requiring vision correction. Their expertise provides our patients with a suitable length of time for treatment (10 minutes per eye) without spending a long duration of time in surgery. 

Cooperation from the patient: Another factor that will determine the length of cataract surgery will be the patient. Remaining still and following the surgeon's instructions might speed up the procedure.

Pre-operative Planning

Overall, when looking at the question of ‘how long does a cataract surgery take?’, it is a fairly fast, safe treatment that has a significant positive impact on vision. Although the surgical procedure normally takes between 10 and 20 minutes, it is important to take pre-operative planning into account, as well as post-operative time for recovery. 

Remember to talk with your ophthalmologist before having cataract surgery. They will provide you with personalised advice and walk you through the procedure, guaranteeing the greatest results for your eyesight and overall eye health.

Here to help

If you have any more questions or would like more information regarding the length of time for cataract surgery, you can get in touch with our specialist ophthalmologists on 0208 445 8877, or contact us below.

Find out more by Speaking to our team

0208 445 8877