When Should You Schedule Cataract Surgery for Best Outcomes?

Cataracts are a clouding of the natural lens in the eye that affects vision over time. As cataracts progress, they can cause blurry vision, sensitivity to light and glare, poor night vision, seeing “halos” around lights, frequent prescription changes in glasses, and double vision in one eye. Cataracts are a very common eye condition, especially in older adults. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery is a common outpatient procedure to remove the cloudy natural lens and replace it with a clear artificial intraocular lens (IOL) implant. The surgery typically takes less than an hour and involves making tiny incisions in the eye to break up and remove the old lens using a high-frequency ultrasound probe. Patients are given local anesthesia with sedation during the procedure.

Timing cataract surgery appropriately is important to optimize visual outcomes. It is generally recommended when cataracts start substantially interfering with everyday activities and quality of life. The best time for surgery depends on multiple personal factors. Consulting with an eye care professional can help determine the right time for each individual based on their vision needs and goals.


a calendar showing options to schedule cataract surgery in the fall

Fall can be a good time for cataract surgery for several reasons. Many experts recommend fall because weather tends to be milder and more stable during this season, which can benefit recovery.[1] With kids back in school and weather cooling down, fall allows time to rest and heal the eyes properly after surgery. Some benefits of fall cataract surgery include:

– Mild weather supports healing. Fall brings lower humidity and comfortable temperatures that won’t dry out or irritate eyes.

– Avoid holiday rush and winter storms. Fall gives time to recover before winter holidays and potential weather disruptions.

– School schedules allow rest. With kids back in school, patients can focus on recovery without disruption.

– Optimal timing for driving. Healing over fall allows clear vision before winter driving conditions arrive.

– Meet insurance deductibles. Having surgery in fall may help meet annual deductibles before they reset in the new year.

Some potential downsides to fall cataract surgery include:

– Vision may still be blurry for October festivities, Halloween activities, and leaf peeping.

– Post-op driving restrictions could impact enjoyment of fall foliage drives.

– Scheduling surgery around kids’ activities and school demands can be tricky.

Overall, the comfortable weather and school schedules make fall a convenient time for cataract surgery recovery for many patients.


a person considering risks and benefits of winter cataract surgery

Many patients and doctors prefer scheduling cataract surgery in winter for several reasons. One benefit is that recovery often goes well because people tend to spend more time indoors during the colder winter months1. This avoids exposure to bright sunlight, which can cause discomfort during the initial healing stages. Staying inside with less outdoor activity also reduces risks of rubbing or bumping the eye while it’s healing.

Having surgery in winter also means your vision will be clear by spring and summer when people want to be more active outdoors1. The winter holiday season is often a convenient time to schedule surgery since work and social obligations slow down. Some even use the recovery period as a chance to relax at home. However, winter also brings considerations like holiday travel plans and exposure to illnesses like colds and flu during recovery2.

Overall, scheduling cataract surgery in winter can optimize healing but requires weighing factors like individual lifestyle, activity levels, and susceptibility to seasonal illnesses. It’s best to consult your ophthalmologist for personalized advice.

1. https://drkerrysolomon.com/blog/cataracts/when-should-you-have-cataract-surgery/
2. https://www.centreforsight.net/blog/when-is-the-right-time-to-get-cataract-surgery-done/


cherry blossom trees blooming representing spring eye surgery
Spring can be an ideal time for cataract surgery for several reasons. The weather is moderate, not too hot or cold, which can make recovery more comfortable. As the days get longer and brighter, vision may improve naturally with increased sunlight exposure. This allows some patients to delay surgery a bit longer if desired. Spring school breaks provide recovery time for students before finals and summer activities start. Outdoor events pick up in the spring, so getting surgery done early allows healing before summer adventures like travel, hiking, swimming, and sightseeing.[1]

Potential downsides of spring surgery include increased postoperative dry eye symptoms from allergies and wind exposure.[2] Pollen and plant matter in the air can also increase risk of infection. Rapid weather changes from warm to cold and rainy may impede recovery. It’s important to avoid rubbing eyes and follow post-op instructions carefully during allergy season.


Most eye surgeons agree that summer can be a great time to undergo cataract surgery.1 The weather is often warm and sunny during summer months, allowing for more outdoor activities and vacation plans post-surgery. With kids out of school, there may be more flexibility in scheduling surgery and recovery time. There are also benefits in terms of reduced risk of falls on ice and snow during the recovery period.

However, there are some potential downsides as well. Intense sunlight and heat can be irritating during the healing process. It’s important to wear sunglasses and hats when going outside. Humidity levels also tend to be higher in summer, which can increase risk of infection.2 Busy vacation schedules could potentially interfere with follow-up appointments and recovery routines.

Overall, scheduling cataract surgery in summer can allow patients to take advantage of nicer weather and outdoor activities after recovering. But it’s important to take precautions against sun, heat, and disrupted routines. Consulting with your surgeon about the pros and cons will help determine if summer is the right time based on your specific lifestyle and needs.

Personal Factors

a patient and doctor discussing ideal timing for cataract surgery

There are several personal factors that should be considered when determining the optimal timing for cataract surgery. Age is one important consideration. Cataracts tend to develop and progress as people get older, with most cataract surgeries performed on people over the age of 60. However, cataracts can occur earlier in life for some individuals depending on genetics, UV light exposure, medications, injuries, and other health conditions like diabetes. Younger patients may benefit from earlier cataract surgery to minimize disruption to their lifestyle and visual needs.

The patient’s general eye health and presence of any other ocular diseases should also be evaluated. Patients with advanced glaucoma or macular degeneration may need cataract surgery sooner, while it may be better to wait in patients with diabetic retinopathy until the retinopathy has been treated and stabilized. Lifestyle factors like driving, occupation, hobbies, and ability to function independently should be discussed with the ophthalmologist to determine the impact of visual impairment from cataracts and the optimal timing for surgery.

For example, someone whose job or hobbies rely heavily on good vision may choose to have cataract surgery sooner than average. On the other hand, delaying surgery may be reasonable for older patients who are less symptomatic and primarily need to maintain their current visual function for daily living activities. The ophthalmologist can provide guidance on weighing these personal considerations and setting appropriate expectations for surgical outcomes.

Surgeon Consultation

When meeting with your eye doctor for a consultation before cataract surgery, be sure to ask about their experience performing the procedure during different seasons and whether they’ve noticed any differences in outcome. It’s recommended to have an open discussion with your surgeon about the best timing for your particular situation.

Some key questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been performing cataract surgery? What is your overall experience with the procedure?
  • Do you notice any seasonal differences in surgical complexity or patient outcomes? If so, what differences have you observed?
  • In your opinion, is there an optimal time of year to have cataract surgery? Why?
  • Given my specific eye condition and lifestyle factors, what time of year would you recommend for my cataract surgery and why?

Having an in-depth consultation allows you to gather your surgeon’s expert insight on the nuances of scheduling cataract surgery. Be sure to voice any personal preferences or concerns you may have regarding timing as well. Your doctor can then help determine the ideal season and month to proceed based on their surgical experience and your individual needs.

Recovery Tips

It’s important to follow your surgeon’s post-op instructions for a smooth recovery. Generally, you can optimize your recovery by getting plenty of rest, taking any prescribed medication, limiting activity, wearing sunglasses outdoors, and attending follow-up appointments.

Rest is critical for healing after cataract surgery. Your doctor will likely recommend resting your eyes for the first few days by limiting reading, computer use, and television watching. It’s normal to feel tired initially, so listen to your body and rest when needed. Most patients feel back to normal within about 1 week.

Your surgeon may prescribe medicated eye drops to prevent infection and reduce inflammation. Use these drops as directed. Pain medication can also help relieve discomfort during the first couple days.

Avoid strenuous activity for at least 1 week post-op. Your doctor can advise when it’s safe to resume exercise and lift heavy objects again. Slowly increase activity over the next several weeks. Driving may be restricted at first, so ask your surgeon when it’s safe for you to drive again.

Wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes, even on cloudy days. Your eyes will be sensitive to light after surgery. Consider getting polarized sunglasses to reduce glare.

Follow your surgeon’s instructions for post-op appointments to monitor your recovery. These visits allow the doctor to check your vision and eye pressure and ensure you are healing properly.


There are several key factors to consider when determining the ideal time of year to have cataract surgery. The season you choose can impact your vision recovery and convenience. However, your personal schedule, eye health, and surgeon’s availability are also important.

In summary, important factors to consider for ideal timing include:

  • Fall or spring may provide more moderate weather for recovery
  • Avoid major holidays that disrupt your surgeon’s schedule
  • Pick a time when you can take 2-3 weeks off work or other responsibilities to focus on healing
  • Discuss your individual eye health and goals with your surgeon
  • Be flexible if your surgeon recommends a different time of year
  • Have a ride arranged for surgery and follow-up appointments

By considering these factors, you can optimize your cataract surgery and recovery experience. Be sure to consult your ophthalmologist to determine the best timing for your particular circumstances and health.


American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Cataract Surgery Timing.” AAO, www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/cataract-surgery-timing.

Day, R., Cruess, A.F. et al. Safety of cataract surgery in the spring and summer seasons. Can J Ophthalmol, 2017.

Downey, S.N. In What Season Should I Get Cataract Surgery? VisionAware, www.visionaware.org/information/questions-and-answers/cataract-surgery-season/.

Manning, S., Barry, P. When’s the Best Time of Year For Cataract Surgery? American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2019, www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/time-of-year-for-cataract-surgery.

McDonald, Meredith. “When’s the Best Time of Year to Have Cataract Surgery?” All About Vision, www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/when-cataract-surgery.htm.

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