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Traditional cataract surgery is performed manually and involves a small incision being made in the eye to remove the cloudy lens using a highly-sophisticated ultrasound probe, and then the insertion of an artificial transparent lens to clear up the mistiness and restore sight. Cataract surgery is normally carried out as a day-case procedure, and both eyes are usually treated within a single visit (using different equipment).
Read on to learn more about what to expect on the day and after cataract surgery, as well as the cataract surgery recovery process and aftercare.
You will usually have your cataract surgery 1-4 weeks after the consultation with your surgery. Most people spend between two and two and a half hours at the clinic on surgery day, and we recommend that you take at least two days off work.
It’s a good idea to bring sunglasses to wear on the way home, and please don’t wear eye makeup.
Many people bring a friend or family member with them to help them get home afterwards, as your vision may be blurry for 48-72 hours. You will be able to see within a few minutes of the procedure being completed, but it will be a few days before you can see well enough to drive. Even if you take a taxi or use public transport, your friend can make sure you pay the correct fare and get home to the right house!
Once at the clinic, the nurses will use drops to dilate your pupil(s). A nurse will discuss the aftercare with you, explaining how to look after your eyes immediately after treatment and in the days that follow.
Your surgeon will go through your signed consent form with you and he/she will talk you through the treatment.
Anaesthetic eye drops will be put in your eyes to numb them. Most of these procedures are carried out under local anaesthetic, although a general anaesthetic or light sedation may be used in particular circumstances. The surgery then takes approximately 10-15 minutes per eye. After surgery, you will rest in our relaxation suite for 30-45 minutes.
After your cataract surgery, your surgeon will check your eyes again before you leave the clinic. Your eyes will feel tired and gritty for the rest of the day so we advise you to stay at home and rest to help with your recovery.
You will be able to see afterwards, but your vision will be slightly misty for 48 – 72 hours. Depending on what the vision was like before, you may notice a dramatic improvement straight away.
Here’s what’s normal over the first couple of days after surgery;
Your pupil will return to normal function within a couple of days and your vision should become much clearer once this happens. To help with your recovery, eye drops will be provided along with instructions on their usage.
Here’s what’s not normal and if you have any of these symptoms you should consult an eye doctor or accident and emergency service as soon as possible;
Cataract surgery is an incredibly successful surgery and most patients get excellent results. Having your surgery performed by a consultant eye surgeon ensures that you’re receiving the best possible standard of care.
80% of patients get reasonably clear vision the day after surgery, with further improvement in the following days. Some eyes take longer to heal, depending on the density of the cataracts that were removed. Even in these cases, there is a significant improvement in the first week after surgery.
To help with your recovery, eye drops will be provided along with instructions on their usage.
Aftercare eye drops are very important for your recovery, healing, and ensuring your eyes are as comfortable as possible. These drops prevent problems such as an infection from developing and makes sure your recovery is as quick as possible.
Our dropAdrop app provides personalised notifications at regular intervals to take your aftercare eye drops. The app is free to download from the App Store or on Google Play.
For most people it’s within a day, with vision reaching its maximum level of improvement after about a month.
Your eye may feel a little sore and gritty for a few days after surgery. Some patients feel no discomfort at all. Most patients will not experience any major discomfort.
Patients will have a follow-up appointment around 2 weeks after surgery in order to check vision improvements and address any concerns. After 4-6 weeks patients are required to complete an eye test.
Many patients can completely dispense with glasses for distance vision, although most will still require reading glasses.
If you wish to be 100% glasses-free – speak to your surgeon about premium, multifocal intraocular lenses, including trifocal and extended depth of focus lenses.
In most cases, the effects of cataract surgery last a long time, with the majority of patients experiencing long-term improved vision, free of side effects.
You should be able to return to work within 1-2 weeks after surgery. If you work from home and simply use a computer you can resume work as soon as you feel comfortable to do so.
You can drive again whenever your vision has cleared and you feel ready. For most people, this takes a few days, but may take longer.
We recommend that for air travel you wait at least one week after surgery.
Cataract surgery is a safe and effective way to restore vision and serious complications are very rare. 85% of our patients have better than 20/20 vision one month on from the procedure. And 100% of patients have better than 20/40 vision (the legal driving standard) one month on from the procedure. Our surgeons have complication rates of less than 0.5%, compared to the UK average of 3% for cataract surgery. Our surgeons are also recognised as among the best cataract surgeons in the UK as voted by other ophthalmologists.
It’s completely normal to experience a little-blurred vision while your eyesight settles for a day or two, or in some cases for a week or two. Some people can require glasses for distance or near vision after cataract surgery but also have the option of laser eye surgery to decrease the need for glasses. Following cataract surgery, a minority of individuals do experience the onset of visual problems similar to those caused by cataracts, with symptoms including blurry vision and difficulty with glare from bright lights. This relatively common phenomenon is caused by a condition known as posterior capsule opacification and is caused by a thickening of the lens capsule that secures the artificial lens in place.
Treatment is a quick, simple, routine and low-risk procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy and can be performed as an outpatient procedure. Following this, patients can expect their sight to return to normal within a few days (the same level of sight that was originally restored by the cataract surgery).
Looking for more information on what sets our cataract surgery apart? Our cataract surgery brochure contains all the information you need. View our brochure page to receive your free download.
Private cataract surgery has several differences from routine NHS surgery, including surgery performed by a consultant surgeon chosen by the patient.
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We are asked many questions about cataract surgery so here are the answers to our top 13 FAQs.