The cataract operation
The eye surgeon will remove your cataract by making a very small incision in your eye. The incision is usually self-healing but may sometimes require stitches, which are easily removed in the outpatient unit.
Inside your eye, your natural lens (cataract) is inside a capsule, rather like the skin of a grape containing the fruit. The lens is softened with ultrasonic waves before it is removed through a hollow probe.
The surgeon removes the lens and leaves the capsule intact. A new artificial lens is implanted in the lens capsule which ‘shrink wraps’ it to hold it in place.
On the day of the operation
- Do not drive yourself to the appointment
- Please be sure to arrive at the time given in your appointment letter.
- On arrival, the receptionist will take contact details for your journey home, and give you a contact number for us
- Have a light meal prior to coming in for your operation
- Please take all your medications as usual unless specifically advised not to (if you are diabetic, check with the nurse at pre-operative assessment)
- Wear comfortable, loose fitting, non-white clothing. You will not need to get undressed for the operation
- Do not wear make-up
- Please do not bring any valuables with you
- The total time you will be receiving care is approximately 2½ hours
- We recommend that someone takes you home after your surgery but it is not necessary for them to stay with you overnight.
The receptionist will confirm your health and insurance details.
Most patients do not require sedation for their surgery. However if the doctor has identified this as a requirement at the time of the pre-assessment clinic then the appropriate sedative tablet will be offered to you.
Please tell the nurse if anything has changed since your pre-operative assessment, for example, new medication, illness or eyesight change.
You will be escorted to the ambulatory reception, where anesthetic and antiseptic drops will be placed in to your eye.
Drops to dilate the pupil will be placed in the eye to be operated on before your surgery. These drops will blur your vision for up to four hours, and sometimes longer.
You will be wheeled into the operating room. The area around the eye will be cleaned with a surgical skin cleaner containing iodine, and your face, head and chest will be covered to create a sterile barrier.
This sterile sheet is adhesive and sticks to the skin around the eye. Removing it at the end of the procedure is like having a sticking plaster removed – if you have particularly delicate skin please let the staff know.
Water is used to irrigate the eye during the procedure. This sometimes gets behind the surgical sheet and can run down into your ear or neck. We therefore remove hearing aids on the side of the surgery just before the operation.
The surgeon uses a high powered microscope to perform the surgery and the light is very bright. You will be asked to look straight into the light so the operation can take place.
You need to keep as still as possible during the procedure. Even slight movements, like talking or nodding, are amplified under the microscope and make the surgery more difficult.
You will be shown how to indicate to the surgeon if you need to cough or sneeze.
What does the surgery feel like?
You may feel certain sensations, such as the surgeon touching your face and forehead and you may experience some pressure in the eye.
If this becomes uncomfortable, you can have more anesthetic during the surgery, which can either be a specific type of non-needle injection or further eye drops.
After the operation
You will be accompanied back to a recovery area by one of the staff.
Your eye will be covered with an eye shield. Eye drops will be given to you to prevent infection and reduce any post-operative swelling. Written post-operative care instructions and instructions on how and when to use the drops will be provided to you. The staff will given literature explaining your drops. It also has a chart that can be used to record when you need to instill your drops and for you to complete when you have instilled them. Many patients find this very useful.
It is very important to remember to put your eye drops in your eye as directed, in order to prevent infection or inflammation. Infection in the eye can lead to permanent loss of vision.