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I'm new here. This forum is an amazing resource. I've learned a lot reading other posts.


I'm 38 and my mom is 74. Just before Covid lockdowns started my mom needed to renew her driver's license. I brought her to the local Costco optometrist for new glasses. The optometrist said she had cataracts and would need surgery. My mom still passed her driver's eye exam but stopped driving. It's now been over a year (I've been doing all errands since) and she's scared to see an ophthalmologist for evaluation because she read she will need topical antibotics after the surgery. She is very allergic to antibotics. When she was a teenager she was hospitalized for a year due to the allergy and doctors not diagnosing her correctly. I can understand her anxiety over the thought of antibotics but I don't want her going blind. Any others have experience getting cataract surgey with an allergy to antibotics? Thanks for reading this. Any advice is appreciated.

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Hi, I found this article on the Mayo Clinic website: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cataract-surgery/about/pac-20384765

It mentions that SOME doctors recommend antibiotic eye drops a few days before the procedure.

Most folks develop cataracts as they age. Surgery only becomes necessary when the loss of vision from them is significant. If your mother can still see well enough not to be bothered by them, she has no motivation to overcome her fear, right?

You asked about my grandmother. When she couldn't read anymore, she gave in and had her cataracts removed, painlessly! She was amazed and said she could have kicked herself for not doing it earlier.

I would let your mom be for now. Find a good opthamologist for her to see when she's ready.
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My mother is allergic to penicillin and had cataract surgery with no problems. Just made sure the surgeon knew about Mom's allergy (when giving the pre-surgery meds) and confirmed no penicillin when they gave her the post-surgery meds too. There are enough people who have a penicillin allergy now and alternate medications available to handle this without problems.
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If there were a severe allergy to the only type of antibiotic that could be used in a particular situation, a doctor might decide that with careful infection control measures, an antibiotic could be avoided. But that's not the situation here. Penicillin is not normally used topically, to begin with. Additionally, a penicillin allergy will suggest what other antibiotics might be a problem so they can be avoided. But as others have stated, there are many antibiotics in other drug classes, and there should be a number of options. If you can't talk with a doctor, you can probably get pretty good info from a pharmacist--sometimes better than you can get from a physician.

You definitely need to get an opinion from another eye doctor, preferably an ophthalmologist. As others have stated, optometrists are not physicians and do not perform eye surgery. An ophthalmologist is a physician with an M.D. or D.O. There are other considerations in deciding to do cataract surgery beyond simply the presence of cataracts!
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Daughterof1947, if your mother doesn't want to go into an office for evaluation, and you do have a specific ophthalmologist in mind, call the office and try to speak to one of the Surgery Boarders.    I found them very helpful, and quite wiling to explain procedures.
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You don't say how old Mom is but if 1947 in ur name means ur birth year then your Mom is in her 90s? I don't remember when my MIL and Mom had theirs done but they were at least 80 maybe younger. I don't know who explained the procedure to them but both thought it was scraped off which sounds awful. I explained to both how it works and my MIL insisted it was scraped off.

Tell Mom I know a man who was 98 when he had his removed with no problems. My friends who have had it down (in their 70s and before) say the procedure was nothing. The eyedrops were a pain. Not pain in they hurt but a pain remembering to put them in for the weeks that followed. They are all glad they had it done.
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My mom was allergic to penicillin and she did fine with cataract surgery
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Daughterof1947 Jun 12, 2021
Good to know! Thanks for responding.
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Just a clarification of my earlier response.     I had checked the meds in the compounded drops I took before and after, but currently have no recollection of any of the meds.  There is a possibility an antibiotic was included in the blended meds.   So I might have erroneously stated I never had antibiotics relating to cataract surgery.  Sorry for any confusion.
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Daughterof1947 Jun 12, 2021
Thanks for taking the time to reply! My mom read that she would need antibotic eye drops with cataract surgery. I'm trying to get her into the doctor for evaluation but getting resistance.
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This may be off topic, but my gradmother ( born in 1i84) put off cataract surgery for YEARS because of the stories of terrible pain told by Mrs. Gilroy, her neighbor.

Sometimes you just need to figure out a way to get your elder "beyond" the sob stories and fears to acceptance. Not an easy road.
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Daughterof1947 Jun 12, 2021
Agreed! My mom is fearful of going to the doctor's because of the time she spent in the hospital with the bad reaction to penicillin. She's very mistrustful of them. But going to the doctor is the only way she will get better so I have to figure out how to convince her. Tough road indeed. How was your grandmother convinced?
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Just looked this up.

Antibiotic eye drops
Besivance, Vigamox and Zymaxid (gatifloxacin) are antibiotics often prescribed after cataract surgery to prevent infection. Eye doctors may like the newer antibiotic eye drops because they believe there is less antibiotic resistance.Aug 21, 2018
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Daughterof1947 Jun 12, 2021
Thanks for taking the time to look this up! I'll share this information with my mom and hopefully that will help her be less frightened of the drops and more likely to be willing to see the doctor.
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I doubt any drops used are penicillin, or at least there are other options. My mother had both eyes done, and she's allergic to penicillin.
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Daughterof1947 Jun 12, 2021
Thanks for your reply! Good to know that there's other types of drops that a patient can use successfully if they are allergic to penicillin.
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I'm a bit confused.   Why would she need antibiotics after cataract surgery?   Does she have a condition that would require antibiotics? Or was this just based on an article she read?   By whom, and where?  Some articles just aren't accurate.   Antibiotics were never discussed with the surgery boarders or doctors before I had my surgeries.

I'd get an evaluation from a doctor about the antibiotic issue, and especially from the ophthalmologist who would perform the surgery (and I'd never consider anyone from Costco under any circumstances!).

I've had cataract surgery on both eyes; antibiotics was never discussed.   I did take eye drops before and after; that's mandatory according to my ophthalmologist.   They stung, no question that for a short time (maybe 10 or so minutes) after taking them my eyes were uncomfortable.   But the dosage decreases by week and after 4 weeks, no more eye drops.

I also would consider seeing an ophthalmologist instead of an optometrist at a chain store.    For years I saw either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist, but the optometrist was top notch, and in private practice.  (She also taught at the local teaching university,)    I tried Lenscrafters and got glasses through them for some years, but wouldn't consider going back.

Their optometrist was good, but nowhere near as thorough as my ophthalmologist.    And I've had too many problems with their glasses.   They broke too easily,    And they didn't fit right; I got tired of going back for refitting.

When it comes to eyes, I'd go for the best you can find.
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JoAnn29 Jun 11, 2021
Optometrist don't operate, they are not MDs.
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Penicillin is not the only antibiotic used now a days.

Talk to the doctor and tell them what has happened and find out if they have an alternative drop that is not in the same class as penicillin.
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Daughterof1947 Jun 12, 2021
Thanks for your reply! I totally agree with your advice. I'm trying to get her into see a doctor and she's giving me a hard time.
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Perhaps your first visit should be to an allergist who can test your mom's sensitivities.
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Daughterof1947 Jun 12, 2021
That's a great suggestion! Thanks for replying!
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This is for the doctor to determine and NOT a forum. You tell the surgeon who deals with drugs and allergies all the time. By the way, she has to be willing to do the procedure
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Daughterof1947 Jun 12, 2021
Thanks for replying! Yes I would love to get her to see a doctor. I'm looking here for more information that I can use to try to convince her to see a doctor. It's a challenge.
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I wonder if her allergy was penicillin? My Mom was sensitive to it and had a problem with an antibiotic.

I think topical means the eye drops u need to take. Best thing, call the Eye doctor who would do the surgery. He can tell her what problems could occur. Be nice to know what antibiotic was used. May not be on the market anymore.
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Daughterof1947 Jun 11, 2021
Yes it was penicillin. That's a good idea about talking to the eye doctor. I'm having a hard time getting her to go in to see the doctor. But maybe I can call the doctor and get the information then use that to convince to go in. Thanks for the suggestion!
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