Have you got Questions about Cataract Surgery?

Questions about Cataract Surgery?

Will Cataract Surgery Hurt?

Not surprisingly, this is a common question! The answer is that you will not feel any pain during surgery. Most likely, you will be sleeping lightly and have very little memory of what occurred in the operating theatre afterwards.

When are Cataracts Developed Enough to Require Surgery?

When to have surgery is always a personal choice. If you are noticing vision problems and your
optometrist or doctor has told you that you have cataracts, it is likely that your cataracts are bad enough
to require surgery.

Early symptoms of cataracts include trouble reading small print along with losing confidence driving
at night due to haloes or struggling with glare during the day. Having to update the prescription in your
glasses more frequently is common as cataracts progress. These symptoms can become noticeable to
you even before your eye care provider notices significant clouding of the lenses of your eyes.

People who need excellent night vision for driving will often seek cataract surgery early on rather than
wait for loss of lines on the vision chart. Others who are not experiencing symptoms may wait until later,
although it is important to have regular eye examinations to monitor your situation and avoid your vision
slipping to the point that driving becomes dangerous.

Will Cataracts Cause Blindness?

Yes, cataracts can cause blindness. Fortunately, however, this can be cured by performing cataract
surgery. In fact, often the vision is so good a person can usually legally drive without glasses after surgery.

It is best not to wait until your vision is severely reduced. Cataract surgery is technically easier and
treatment less complex if performed before the vision progresses to legal blindness.

Can I Avoid Surgery by Other Methods Like Eye Drops?

Although around the world there is research into eye drops which reduce the damage to the lens caused
by natural ageing, currently there are no eye drops available in clinical practice. The only treatment for
cataracts is clinically proven cataract surgery. Cataract surgery also allows you the option to correct your
focus problems at the same time, which eye drops will never do.

Will I be Able to Throw Away my Glasses After Surgery?

In many cases the answer is YES – you will enjoy increased freedom from your spectacles. However,
you must remember that everybody is unique with their own set of eye health issues and lifestyle

During advanced cataract surgery, the surgeon removes your cloudy cataract and inserts a new, artificial
intraocular lens (IOL). There are a wide variety of IOLs available in Australia, however they can be grouped
into three (3) main categories based on their optical properties. They include: ‘monofocal’ IOLs, ‘extended
depth of focus’ IOLs and ‘multifocal’ IOLs. For each IOL type there is a toric or astigmatism correcting
version available.

The IOL that is ultimately used will be selected based upon what type of vision you want to achieve in the
long term, that will allow you to live the lifestyle that you want. The ‘Vision for Life’ section of this eBook
describes this in more detail.

More information can be found in our Ultimate Guide to Cataract Surgery.

What Are Intraocular Lenses Made Of?

All intraocular (IOL) types are made from similar material, a specialized plastic polymer. Remember, the
IOL is a small, inflexible, man-made piece of technology. Currently, there is no IOL available anywhere in
the world that can perfectly replicate the optics of a young, healthy, natural crystalline lens, which can flex
and therefore change focus, known as ‘accommodation’.

This ability of the young lens to ‘accommodate’
facilitates crystal clear vision spanning the near, intermediate and distance range without the need for

It is important to understand that despite incredible advances in technology over the past decade, there
are limitations regarding what can be achieved by cataract surgery.

What Is A ‘Toric Iol’?

Toric IOLs are the astigmatism correcting version of each of the 3 major IOL types available in Australia – monofocal, extended depth of focus and multifocal IOLs. Technically, the steps during the operation are the same between IOL types, however toric IOLs are orientated on a specific axis inside the eye.

This axis has been specifically calculated for your eye, based on the measurements taken at your pre-operative assessment.

Do You Need A General Anaesthetic For Cataract Surgery?

No. Cataract surgery is performed under ‘twilight sedation’. You will be very relaxed and comfortable and have no memory of your surgery. A general anaesthetic, where a breathing tube is inserted and a ventilator is used, is not needed. In fact, a general anaesthetic has significantly more risks associated with it compared to twilight sedation.

It is completely normal to feel apprehensive or nervous about an operation. You will be provided with the details of your anaesthetist prior to your surgery and are encouraged to contact them for discussion if you wish.

Questions about Cataract Surgery Aftercare?

What Should I Do When I Arrive Home From Hospital?

REST! Go to bed early. It is normal to feel tired and perhaps a little nauseous after your surgery due to a combination of fasting, anxiety and the sedating anaesthetic.

Try to have something to eat and drink as you may be dehydrated after fasting prior to your surgery Good hydration will help wash out the sedating medication from your system. Take regular simple analgesia such as Panadol, Panamax or Panadeine, if you have any discomfort.

What Should I Avoid In The First 48 Hours After Surgery?

To keep you comfortable during your surgery, strong sedating medication was administered by your anaesthetist. Even though you may feel fine, your physical and mental abilities may still be slightly impaired for the first 48 hours after your surgery. Therefore it is important that you:

  • do not drive or operate heavy machinery
  • do not sign legal documents or make any important decisions
  • do not use public transport alone
  • take care when mobilising, especially when you are away from your normal home environment.
What Should I Do In The First 48 Hours After Surgery?

Remain close to home and rest as much as possible. Use your eye drops as directed and fill out the ‘eye drop chart’. Continue to take regular simple analgesia as required for any discomfort. If your eye waters, use a fresh tissue and wipe away the tears on your cheek.

How Will My Eye Feel After Surgery?

It is normal to experience some discomfort and symptoms after your eye surgery, these may include:

  • gritty or stingy sensation
  • mild ache
  • watering or mild mucous discharge
  • blood-stained tears
  • redness
  • blurred vision
  • puffiness of the eyelid
  • dilated pupil
  • sensitivity to light
How Long Do I Have To Wear The Eye Shield For?

Ideally for the first 2 nights after your surgery. If you would feel more comfortable, you are welcome to wear the shield while you are sleeping for the first week or longer after your surgery. If you decide to do this, then please take care placing the eye shield correctly before taping it to your skin.

What Can I Do Over The First Two Weeks After Surgery?

As your eye is healing, your vision should be improving and any discomfort, such as grittiness or ache, reducing. It is ok to perform all your usual activities.

Use common sense and avoid anything that may put you at risk of infection or an eye injury. It is perfectly fine for you to use your eyes to read, watch TV, cook or sew.

You can bend over to put on your shoes or pick up light objects.

You can shower and wash your hair – but don’t get water in your eyes!

You can sleep on either side.

What Should I Avoid In The First Two Weeks After Surgery?

Use common sense and avoid anything that may put you at risk of infection or an eye injury. For example, don’t lift anything heavy (more than 10kg) or expose your eye to a dirty or dusty environment like the garden, work-shop, or dusty cupboard.

Don’t perform activities that are vigorous, e.g. running, or that could put your eye at risk of a bump.

Avoid travel to a remote area where you are unable to access eye care quickly.

At all times you must remember – DO NOT RUB YOUR EYE!

Do I Need To Wear Sunglasses After My Operation?

It is normal for your eye to be quite sensitive to light for the first few weeks after your surgery. Sunglasses will help to keep you comfortable. They do not accelerate the healing process.

When Can I Drive After My Operation?

Usually after 48 hours if you feel safe and your vision meets the Department of Main Roads and Transport criteria. Start in your local area during daylight hours. Do not drive if you are not confident!

How Much Exercise Can I Do?

Gentle exercise like walking can be resumed after 48 hours. Avoid any heavy lifting (more than 10kg) or vigorous exercise such as running, gym, golf or bowls for at least 2 weeks.

You must not get sweat into your eye as it contains bacteria and other germs which may cause an infection to develop.

It’s only natural to have questions and concerns about any surgery. The following questions about cataract surgery are the most commonly asked by our patients. And, their answers.



If you find the prospect of cataract surgery daunting, here’s a short introduction on what to expect at your cataract assessment.


What is a cataract?
When should you have surgery?
All your questions explained…

Guide to Cataract & Eye Surgery


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