Staying Healthy

Insider tips for a smooth recovery from cataract surgery

Pay attention to instructions, and prep in advance.

By , Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

close-up photo of a lens implant for cataracts held by tweezers; a gloved hand is holding the package it was removed from

Replacing a clouded lens inside the eye (a cataract) with an artificial lens is a routine procedure with a low risk for complications. That doesn't mean you can be complacent about recovery; you need to follow exactly the postsurgical plan your doctor prescribes. Here are some extra tips.

Cataract surgery basics

Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure to replace a clouded lens inside the eye (a cataract) with a clear artificial lens. During surgery, the surgeon makes a makes a tiny incision in the eye, then breaks up and removes the cataract. After that, the new artificial lens is slipped into place.

Some surgeons use a scalpel for the incision. Increasingly, surgeons are using an ultra-short-pulse (femtosecond) laser, which is integrated with three-dimensional imaging. Some doctors report that this tool offers more precision for certain steps of the surgery and ensures better lens placement.

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About the Author

photo of Heidi Godman

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
View all posts by Heidi Godman

About the Reviewer

photo of Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff is the Steven P. Simcox/Patrick A. Clifford/James H. Higby Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and editor in chief of the Harvard … See Full Bio
View all posts by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

You might also be interested in…

Clearing the Fog of Cataracts

Clearing the Fog of Cataracts clears away the confusion and misinformation around cataracts. Discover the truth about whether you really need cataract surgery. Plus resources to find the right surgeon and a step-by-step guide to everything you need to know about surgery if you choose to have it. Even better, you’ll find out the secrets to protecting your eyes and vision at any age.

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