Is Cataract Surgery Painful?

Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed with cataracts or have been told that yours are ripe for surgery, you’ll likely have many questions to ask about treatment.

Is Cataract Surgery Painful?

Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed with cataracts or have been told that yours are ripe for surgery, you’ll likely have many questions to ask about treatment. One of the most common is understanding exactly how cataract surgery works and—most importantly—whether it’s going to hurt!

This is a perfectly valid question. Rest assured that you won’t feel anything during the procedure, but it is normal to have some discomfort afterward. The following looks at what you should expect when undergoing either traditional or laser-assisted cataract surgery.

Cataract Surgery Discomfort: before, during, and after

  • Before cataract surgery—as the condition progresses
  • Is cataract surgery painful when it’s carried out?
  • Post-cataract surgery discomfort

Before cataract surgery—as the condition progresses

In general, cataracts have no symptoms within the early stages. Because they progress very slowly—usually over many years—the first you’ll know about them is when they’re picked up during one of your regular eye exams. (You DO have regular eye exams, don’t you?)

As the condition evolves, visual impairment begins to occur. Symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Your ability to distinguish color fades (they take on a yellowish hue)
  • Difficulty reading in low light
  • Halos appear around lights

However, they aren’t usually painful, although some people may suffer from eye redness or watering. This is because of the extra strain put on the eyes or you might be rubbing them more than usual.

Once cataracts have progressed to a point where they significantly affect your eyesight, you’ll be told that it’s time for surgery.

Is cataract surgery painful when it’s carried out?

Let’s make this clear from the outset. You won’t experience any pain during the procedure. This is because your eyes will be numbed with drops containing an anesthetic. You may also be given light sedation, if necessary.

The procedure only takes minutes to perform. An instrument will be placed over the eye to keep it open during the operation. This doesn’t hurt but is a little bit uncomfortable. However, it’s necessary to ensure you don’t blink during the process.

Post-cataract surgery discomfort

Because the procedure is invasive, you’ll be provided with appropriate pain relief to take for a few days. This will be a combination of eye drops and oral analgesia—usually, over-the-counter products will suffice.

You’ll need to wear an eye patch for the first 24 hours or so and then for a few days when sleeping. This is to prevent you from inadvertently rubbing the eye. The eye patch doesn’t cause any pain.

After the op, most people only experience mild discomfort for a few days. You’ll be encouraged to use your eye again almost immediately. So reading, watching TV, and generally looking around will be possible within a few hours. 

Hopefully, this will have removed some of the concerns you might have about cataract removal. Rest assured, your surgeon will provide you with exactly what you need to ensure the procedure is as smooth and stress-free as possible. The surgery is the most commonly carried out operation in the world, with millions carried out in the USA alone each year.

The success rate is virtually 100%, and it’s truly life-enhancing. While we can’t alleviate all your natural fears about any upcoming operation, we hope that this overview has helped.

Contact the Modern Cataract Surgery Clinic for all your FAQs, including Is Cataract Surgery Painful?

Modern Cataract Surgery is the specialist arm of the West Boca Eye Center—one of the country’s foremost eye clinics. Led by the globally-renowned Dr. Brent Bellotte, the WBEC is dedicated to providing cutting-edge cataract and all-round eye care. 

The expertise on offer addresses all types of cataracts, including age-related, traumatic, pediatric, and congenital cataracts.

Discover more at and call today to book a consultation.


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