Is Cataract Surgery Painful? | Discover Vision

Is Cataract Surgery Painful?

Updated: October 03, 2022

Author: David M. Amsterdam, M.D.

Over 4 million cataract surgeries are performed every year in the United States. Chances are, you know someone who’s had it. Still, as you consider the surgery for yourself, you may wonder, does cataract surgery hurt? There is good news for you here. While it may cause some mild discomfort, cataract surgery is not painful.

Will I Be Awake During Cataract Surgery?

It is very rare to have general anesthesia for cataract surgery. In the vast majority of cases, the patient is awake.

Although you’ll be awake during surgery, there are many measures taken to ensure you don’t feel any pain. You will typically be given a sedative to relax before your procedure begins. Your eyes will also be numbed with topical anesthetic drops.

Reducing Pain During Cataract Surgery

Over the years, the technique for cataract surgery has been optimized to ensure patient comfort during the procedure.

You’ll generally be asked to start some antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops the day before your cataract surgery. The anti-inflammatory eye drops will play a role in keeping the eyes comfortable during and after surgery.

The sedative you receive on the day of surgery will help you to relax and feel comfortable. You may even find yourself nodding off during the procedure. Don’t worry about closing your eyes, as you will have an instrument in place to hold the surgical eye open. The numbing eye drops will prevent you from feeling any discomfort. While you may feel some pressure, there shouldn’t be any pain.

You’ll see many changing lights during surgery. Some people describe the appearance as a kaleidoscope. Your doctor may ask you how you’re doing throughout the surgery. You may or may not remember what happens during cataract surgery, as the medication can affect your memory. In general, patients cope exceptionally well with cataract surgery.

Reducing Pain After Cataract Surgery

does cataract surgery hurt

Is it painful after cataract surgery then? True pain is rare and could indicate a complication, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you experience this. However, mild to moderate discomfort is common after the surgery medications wear off. If it is bothersome, ask your doctor if you can take Tylenol; this generally takes care of any soreness. If you do have discomfort, it should only last a couple of days.

Other common symptoms to expect after surgery include:

  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Feeling like something is in the eye
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity

These symptoms are usually mild and temporary. Ask your doctor if you can use artificial tears in the recovery period, as these can help with many of these discomforts.

So, does cataract surgery hurt afterward? The short answer is no. Still, be patient with your eyes as they recover from surgery. You may want to seek a little extra help and support as your eyes heal.


Most people are astonished by how quick and painless cataract surgery is. While some people experience discomfort postoperatively, it is generally mild and short-lived.

Ready to consider cataract surgery? Book your cataract test online. You’ll be scheduled to see one of the exceptional eye doctors at Discover Vision Centers for a comprehensive evaluation.

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