Caring for the post-operative cataract patient
Knowing what to expect is key for comanaging doctor and patient
Cataract surgery is one of the most successful surgeries performed in the United States. By 2020, it is estimated the number of people having cataract surgery will double, and by 2030 it will triple.1 The optometrist’s role in comanaging these patients will be of critical importance. Developing and maintaining your post-operative clinical care skills is imperative.
After surgery, most surgeons like to see the patient either same day or next day postop before returning the patient to your care for the remaining postoperative period. Patients seen at one day postop may have the following signs and symptoms:
• Reduced visual acuity
• Residual dilation
• Subconjunctival hemorrhage
• Significant corneal edema
• Cells and flare in the anterior chamber
• Corneal keratitis and/or abrasion
• Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP)
Rarely, patients may experience a retinal detachment, a tilted or decentered intraocular lens (IOL), or retained cortical material.
The patient may have symptoms of:
• Reduced vision
• Foreign body sensation
• Flashes and floaters
• Loss of peripheral vision
• Light sensitivity
As an optometrist, you are trained to diagnose and comfortably manage these postoperative signs and symptoms in order to successfully comanage cataract patients. This is a win-win situation for the surgeon, the patient, and your practice.