cataract surgery benefits melbourne

Cataract Surgery Benefits vs Risks – Getting Ready For Eye Treatment

If you’ve just been told you have cataracts, you’ll be reassured to know that cataracts are one of those eye conditions that cause vision loss which can be easily reversed through cataract surgery.  But although cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the world, choosing to put your eyes under the knife is no inconsequential decision.

As with most, if not all, invasive medical procedures, cataract surgery has benefits but also risks. In consultation with your healthcare team, it’s up to you to decide whether the cataract surgery benefits outweigh the potential risk of complications or side effects. 


Cataract Surgery Benefits

The most obvious of all the cataract surgery benefits is having your sight restored. A cataract is an opacity or haze in the crystalline lens of your eye. This lens should be clear and transparent to allow light to pass through, which is vital for sharp vision. Eye conditions blocking this passage of light, such as a cataract or even something else like a scar on the cornea, won’t cause total blindness but can significantly reduce the quality of your vision.

Depending on the density and location of your cataract, you may feel your eyesight is only slightly compromised or it may be significantly impaired. Once the cataract has been removed, light can pass through the lens unhindered, restoring your vision to the level of clarity you had before the cataract began developing. You may also find colours look much brighter and more intense as well as your contrast vision improved. This may be apparent during situations such as driving in overcast or rainy conditions or trying to read a menu in a dimly lit restaurant.  

During cataract surgery, the entire crystalline lens is removed from the eye and replaced with an artificial lens implant known as an intraocular lens. In many cases, particularly if you have your surgery with a private ophthalmologist, this intraocular lens may be calculated to correct your prescription. This leads us to another major plus of cataract surgery – you may no longer need to depend on glasses or contact lenses after your operation. There are various types of intraocular lens implants that suit different lifestyles, vocations, and hobbies, and can reduce the amount of time you need to wear glasses.

treatment cataract surgery benefits melbourneFor example, you may choose to have an intraocular lens that corrects for your long-distance sight, meaning you wear glasses only for near work such as reading, computers, or sewing.

Alternatively, you may opt for a more premium multifocal intraocular lens.

This may provide you sufficient reading vision for you to very rarely need to put any glasses on at all, perhaps just for reading very fine print or in low lighting conditions.  


Cataract Surgery Risks

Cataract surgery is typically considered an uncomplicated, effective procedure with a high safety profile. However, it is not without a potential for adverse side effects. 

The most commonly encountered side effects are minor, such as increased glare sensitivity or dry eye, which tend to self-resolve over a number of months. These conditions simply need some support in the interim, such as using darker sunglasses or lubricant drops. You may also be aware of little floating specks or lines in your vision from natural debris inside the vitreous gel of the eyeball. 

Some people may be disappointed by their eyesight after their surgery if it is not as good as they were hoping. This can be due to various factors, which include misguided expectations, inaccurate calculations of the intraocular lens, or if there are other undetected or poorly managed eye conditions that may be limiting the vision. 

 However, there is also a small risk of a more serious complication occurring either during the surgery itself or during the recovery period. These include an eye infection inside the eyeball known as endophthalmitis, which can have devastating visual consequences if not treated promptly. Other potential risks of cataract surgery include a retinal detachment, swelling of the macula (known as cystoid macular oedema), increased eye pressure and glaucoma, or if a fragment of the cataract is left behind in the eye. Other adverse effects include prolonged pain and inflammation of the eye, swelling of the cornea, or bleeding inside the eye. 

Most of these potential complications can be treated or managed successfully, whether by your original cataract surgeon or another specialist ophthalmologist. 


Am I Ready for Cataract Surgery? 

In the majority of cases, people with visually significant cataracts will decide that the cataract surgery benefits far outweigh the likelihood of complications. Your treating ophthalmologist will perform a thorough examination to ensure your cataracts are suitable for removal. During their assessment, they will also be able to determine whether you have any other factors or eye conditions that mean they need to be more cautious when proceeding with cataract surgery

Though you should be largely guided by your optometrist or ophthalmologist and their expertise, you may decide that your eyesight is not bad enough to warrant surgery at this point in time, which is valid. If you feel you are still comfortable with driving and daily tasks, you may ask your health professional if it is safe to defer cataract surgery until your vision deteriorates further.  



Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

recovery after cataract surgery melbourne

Recovery after Cataract Surgery – What’s Normal & What to Look Out For?

It can be a little nerve-wracking to undergo any sort of surgical procedure – for some people, an operation on the eye is even more daunting. Fortunately, cataract surgery is a well-developed procedure with high rates of success in Australia. Although complications are not common, cataract surgery is not immune to postoperative adverse side effects. Read about what you can expect during your cataract surgery recovery


Recovery After Cataract Surgery

The rate of recovery after cataract surgery often differs between different individuals. It’s important to note that these are general guidelines of what you can expect during cataract surgery recovery, but depending on your eyes, vision, and whether your surgeon encountered any complications during the operation, you may find your experience is slightly different. 

After your cataract surgery procedure, your eye surgeon will give you a list of post-operative instructions to optimise your cataract surgery recovery. You’ll also be given a plastic eye shield to tape over your operated eye to protect it. As driving is not advised for at least 24 hours after your operation, you’ll need to have someone to drive you home and for the following day as well if you need to go out. However, immediately after your cataract surgery, it’s a good idea to rest as you’ll probably be feeling a little fatigued and perhaps a bit drowsy if you were given a sedative during the procedure. 

expectation recovery after cataract surgery melbourneStraight after the operation, your vision will likely still be blurry. Depending on how advanced your cataract was before it was removed, you may find your vision is already improved compared to prior to cataract surgery. However, you can expect it to continue to stabilise and gradually clear over the course of your cataract surgery recovery. After surgery, your eye may be a little puffy and bloodshot, and if you had a local injection of anaesthesia there may also be some slight bruising around the injection site, which will fade over the following days.

You can expect some watering of your eye as it heals. As there’s no longer a cataract filtering out light trying to enter the eye, lights may appear brighter than previously, which can cause you to feel glare sensitive. This will settle over a few months. You may also find colours appear brighter and more vibrant. Some patients experience some dry eye symptoms following their cataract operation. In most cases, this also resolves over several months. In the meantime, you can speak to your optometrist or eye surgeon about dry eye treatment, such as lubricant eye drops.

Follow your eye surgeon’s advice about wearing your protective eye shield. You may be recommended to keep it on for the following day and then wear it only at night for a week or so to stop you from accidentally rubbing or bumping your eye during sleep. You’ll also have a few bottles of prescription eye drops to use, including an antibiotic to prevent infection, and one or two anti-inflammatory medications. It’s important to keep using your eye drops as per your eye specialist’s instructions, even if your eye feels better sooner than you expect.  

During your recovery after cataract surgery, try to keep the eye as clean and protected as possible. While it’s obvious you should avoid rubbing your eye as it heals, there may be some other situations to steer clear of that you may not have considered. These include dirty and dusty environments, such as construction sites, or even dusty areas around your home like under-house storage. Your eye specialist will also recommend you stay away from unsterile water sources for at least a week after your surgery, including saunas, swimming pools, and the beach, as this greatly increases your risk of an eye infection. You can shower (personal hygiene is still important!), but during the first day or so you may want to avoid getting water into your eye and instead gently clean your face with a damp cloth. Try to avoid soaps, shampoos, and even makeup around your eye area as it heals. 

Needless to say, try to take it easy during your cataract surgery recovery. Avoid activities that pose a risk of trauma to your eyes, such as contact sports, or any other strenuous activity. 

Most people will take about 4-6 weeks for their eye to heal and vision to stabilise. Your eye surgeon will advise you when it’s okay to get an eye test with your optometrist to update your prescription. 


Red Flags

Occasionally, something can go wrong even after the smoothest cataract operation. If you experience any of the following, it’s important to contact your eye surgeon immediately.

  • Deteriorating vision, whether a decrease in the clarity of your vision or an area of total vision loss
  • Persistent or increasing pain in your eye
  • The sudden appearance of flashing lights in your vision or little floating specks or lines
  • Persistent or increasing redness of your eye
  • Apart from the mild watering expected immediately after your surgery, the development of any discharge from your eye
  • Nausea, vomiting, or fever
  • Unexpected double vision

You will be scheduled routine review appointments with your eye specialist, typically one week and one month after your operation, but if your eye or vision doesn’t feel quite right at any point, be sure to have it assessed sooner rather than later. 

Call us on (03) 9070 3580 today for a consultation.



Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.