How to Prepare for Your Eye Surgery

How to Prepare for Your Eye Surgery

Pre-operative directions for Dr. Randall Wong's retina patients.There is only one requirement I have before your retinal eye surgery, “Do NOT eat before Surgery!”

Eating anything after midnight the night before surgery is certain to cancel your surgery.  By the way, the following rules apply to my personal patients who are having surgery at INOVA Woodburn Surgical center.  These guidelines may be similar to your own doctor’s, in your own state/country and your hospital, but you should contact your own doctor if you have any questions.

By the way, while I am A boss, I am not THE boss of the operating room.  There is usually an anesthesiologist who heads every operating room.  They are responsible to make sure patients are medically sound, and to their own specifications, to undergo the rigors of anesthesia and, therefore, surgery.  Not me.

Don’t Eat Anything the Night Before Surgery

“NPO after midnight” means nothing to eat after 12 AM the night before surgery.

This rule really means, nothing to eat 8 hours prior to surgery.  This rule ensures an empty stomach for surgery.  This is for your safety and health.  Although unlikely, it is possible you could regurgitate and then aspirate something into your lungs.

While clear fluids such as water, coffee or tea are usually okay, coffee with cream is NOT acceptable.  The cream curdles in your stomach…and takes much longer to leave your stomach than clear liquids.

Be prepared, don’t eat.

Aspirin and Blood Thinners

I personally do not want you to stop any of your medicines that are used to “thin” your blood.  You are on these medications to prevent stroke, heart attack or preserve circulation.  Quite frankly, I’d rather keep you alive and well at the remote risk of jeopardizing your vision.

Our equipment makes retinal surgery unique in that we operate in a “closed” system.  I have complete control over the pressure inside your eye at all times.  Bleeding can NOT get out of hand.  This is NOT true of other eye surgeries and explains why many other eye surgeons do request you stopping blood thinners in anticipation of eye surgery.

Aspirin “thins” blood by effecting the platelets in your blood.  The effects of aspirin last a good two weeks after stopping the oral blood thinner.  Many times, retinal surgery is performed soon after the initial exam.

My colleagues who perform cataract surgery often insist on no aspirin.

No Drops Before Eye Surgery

Many cataract surgeons prescribe antibiotic drops to use prior to eye surgery.  Most retinal surgeons do not.  Again, the chance of infection inside the eye is greater with cataract surgery than with most retinal surgery…again, due to the ‘positive” intraocular pressure during the operation.

Take Your Medications

At my surgical center, we encourage you to take your oral medications with sips of water.  If you have diabetes, ask your diabetic doctor about specific instructions regarding your medicines.

What Does this Mean?

Where I work, these guidelines ensure that each and every patient be treated as if undergoing general anesthesia.  Though most of our procedures are indeed performed under sedation, you will be scrutinized as if general anesthesia is going to be performed.



Randall V. Wong, M.D. 
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist
Fairfax, Virginia



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