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How Long Does Cataract Surgery Take?

By Dominique Brooks ; Updated July 27, 2017

During cataract surgery, the cloudy natural lens in the eye is removed. The procedure itself is one of the safest and most commonly performed procedures. The surgery is done as an outpatient one and does not take very long to perform.

Preoperative Period

On the day of the surgery, the patient will check in at the outpatient center one to two hours before the scheduled time depending on the specific center.

The Surgery: Phaco

With phacoemulsification, the most common type of cataract surgery performed in the U.S., the procedure can take as little a 10 minutes.

The Surgery Itself: ECCE

The extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) can take longer than phacoemulsification; ECCE can take 30 to 45 minutes but with some surgeons can take significantly less time than that.

Time in Recovery

If there were no complications with the surgery, the patient will remain in recovery for a short amount of time–often 20 to 30 minutes. The patient receives instructions of activities and warning signs of complications before leaving.

Reasons for Longer Procedure

Complications such as ripping the lens capsule or bleeding in the eye can cause the surgery to last longer; while these complications are not common, the surgeon would have to adjust the procedure to manage the complications. If more than one eye is being operated on in one day, the surgery time would be longer.

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