cataract surgery procedure melbourne

Cataract Surgery Procedure – What You Need to Expect on the Treatment?

Tens of thousands of eyes undergo a cataract surgery procedure every day around the globe. However, despite cataracts and cataract surgery operations being so prevalent, many are unsure of what to expect during the procedure, let alone what might be involved in the lead-up to surgery or during the post-op recovery. Here is an idea of what you might experience before, during, and after your cataract surgery procedure.


Before Your Cataract Surgery Procedure

The decision to proceed with cataract surgery is made between you and your optometrist or ophthalmologist. You may have found that your vision was no longer adequate for your needs, such as your work requirements or simply to be able to watch TV comfortably. From here, there are a few other decisions to be made, including whether you wish to have your operation via the public or private health system. The public system is free but often has quite long waiting lists of months to a year. Conversely, a private ophthalmologist will likely be able to see you in a matter of a couple of weeks but will often incur significant out of pocket costs, even with private health insurance.

Once you’ve settled on an eye surgeon to perform your cataract surgery, you will need an initial consultation. During this appointment, your ophthalmologist will conduct a comprehensive examination. The point of this examination is to assess your vision and the extent to which your function is impaired, as well as the overall health of your eyes. Doing this enables your ophthalmologist to take precautions against any increased risk of potential complications as well as prepare you with realistic expectations of your cataract surgery

Before you enter the operating theatre, you and your surgeon must also discuss which intraocular lens implant you wish to replace your cataracts once they’re removed. An intraocular lens implant is an artificial lens that can be calculated to correct the prescription of your eyes. The measurements for these calculations are taken at your pre-operative appointments.

treatment cataract surgery procedure melbourneIntraocular implants can be designed to correct one viewing distance, such as long or short vision, but also come in extended depth of focus or multifocal designs. Some patients may opt for an arrangement called monovision, which involves one eye having an intraocular lens that corrects for far-sight while the other eye’s implant corrects for near vision. Choosing an extended depth of focus, multifocal, or monovision arrangement can greatly reduce your need to wear glasses or contact lenses. 

If you’re found to have any inflammation around the eye, such as from blepharitis or dry eye, your ophthalmologist may start you on a treatment strategy to address this. Doing so will reduce your risk of infection during your cataract surgery procedure.


During Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is typically a quick, uncomplicated day procedure. You will be able to go home on the same day with someone to drive you. 

Topical anaesthetic eye drops or a local injection are used to numb the eye in preparation for cataract surgery. General anaesthesia is rarely used unless exceptional circumstances apply, such as a patient with a mental disability who is unable to comply with the surgeon’s instructions. However, if you are feeling particularly anxious or jittery, your ophthalmologist may offer you a light sedative to help calm your nerves. You’ll also have eye drops that dilate the pupil as wide as possible to give the surgeon easy access to the cataract behind it. 

Once you’re positioned on the operating table, the surgeon will ask you to fixate your eyes on a point overhead. During the surgery, you won’t feel any pain due to the anaesthesia, but you may experience some sensation of pressure. 

A small incision is created in the cornea, which is the transparent front surface of the eye. From here, the membrane bag holding the cataract is peeled open, and the cataract is broken into smaller pieces. These fragments can then be suctioned out from the eye. Your chosen intraocular lens is then inserted through the same corneal incision into the empty membrane bag, and manipulated into its correct position. 

There are two methods of modern cataract surgery, both of which are considered safe and effective. The phacoemulsification technique uses handheld manual instruments for all steps and utilises ultrasound energy to fragment the cataract. A newer method known as femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery uses laser technology for many of these steps. An ultrasound probe is still required to break the cataract into pieces; however, by softening the cataract with the femtosecond laser first, less ultrasound energy is required when compared to conventional phacoemulsification. 


Cataract Surgery Post-Op

Your surgeon will most probably organise a series of review appointments after your surgery to ensure your eye is healing appropriately. These typically occur a day after your operation, a week later, and then a month later. 

In the meantime, you’ll have a list of post-operative instructions to follow. These will include things like:

  • Use all your prescribed eye drop medications
  • Avoid strenuous activity 
  • Protect the eye from dust, dirt, soaps, and unsterile water
  • Wear your protective eye shield
  • Avoid rubbing your eye

Immediately after surgery, you can expect your eye to feel a bit dry and gritty. Your vision will continue to stabilise over the following 4-6 weeks, after which you may be advised to check in with your local optometrist for a prescription update and ongoing care.


Call us now on (03) 9070 3580 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.

what to expect after cataract surgery melbourne

What to Expect After Cataract Surgery? Maximising Your Recovery

Although exceedingly common, cataracts are fortunately one of those eye conditions that can be effectively and completely treated. Currently, the only treatment is through cataract surgery, which is a highly effective and safe procedure. Cataract surgery is able to successfully restore any vision loss from a cataract, and may even be able to reduce your dependency on glasses or contact lenses afterwards. 

If you’re considering cataract surgery, the operation itself is only one part of the experience. Here’s what to expect after cataract surgery and what you can do to optimise your recovery.


What to Expect After Cataract Surgery with Your Vision?

Immediately after your cataracts have been removed, your sight is going to feel a little different. If your cataracts were quite advanced before surgery, your vision is probably going to feel very different! 

As it can take several weeks for your sight to stabilise and settle, don’t expect your vision to be crystal clear as you walk out of the operating theatre. However, depending on the state of your vision prior to cataract surgery, you may find your sight is already significantly clearer at day 1 post-operation. Over the following 4-6 weeks, you may find your clarity of sight continues to improve as any swelling of the cornea heals and the intraocular lens implant settles in its membrane capsule. 

It’s important to understand that cataract surgery will not restore any vision lost from other eye conditions, such as macular degeneration or corneal scarring. It is also not expected to improve your vision to a level past what you could achieve with glasses or contact lenses before the cataract formed in the first place. Your eye surgeon should be aware of any such eye conditions with the potential to affect the outcome of your cataract surgery. This will help to guide you in what to expect after cataract surgery and provide you with the most realistic expectations.

In addition to the world looking clearer, you can expect a few other changes once your cataracts have been removed. The colour of an age-related cataract is often yellowish-brown, which can cause some alterations to your colour discrimination. Once the cataract has been extracted, you may find colours appear brighter, more vibrant, and ultimately, more accurately represented in your visual perception. 

Some patients report an increase in glare sensitivity immediately after having their cataracts removed. This is typically because the eye has become accustomed to a reduced amount of light making it through the cataract. After cataract surgery, suddenly more light is able to pass through to the light-sensing retina, resulting in you feeling a little glare sensitive. This sensation is usually temporary, self-resolving in a few months as you adjust.

recovery what to expect after cataract surgery melbourneIn the meantime, you may want to use sunglasses in bright, dazzling conditions or reduce the brightness of your screens to make things more comfortable. 

You may experience some fluctuation of your sight as a result of dry eye. Dry eye is a common side effect of cataract surgery. It is thought to occur due to disruption to the nerves of the cornea during the procedure, which affects the production of tears. Similar to increased glare sensitivity, this is expected to resolve by itself over the following months after your operation. In the interim, you may use artificial lubricant drops to soothe and protect the surface of your eye. 


What to Expect After Cataract Surgery with Potential Complications?

The likelihood of your surgery going south is extremely low. However, as with any medical operation, there is a small risk for a serious complication or adverse effect. Some of these may result in permanent and significant vision impairment, especially if not managed promptly. After your surgery, if you experience any of the following, it is important to contact your eye specialist immediately. In the event that you are unable to get hold of your usual ophthalmologist, you may visit your local optometrist or go to the nearest hospital emergency department. Signs of a potentially severe complication include:

  • Increasing pain and redness around the eye
  • Deteriorating vision, whether a gradual decline or a sudden drop
  • Black areas or shadows across your sight
  • Flashing lights and/or floaters in your field of view
  • Nausea


Maximising Your Recovery 

After your operation, your surgeon will provide you with some post-operative guidelines in order to make your recovery as smooth as possible. It is important to follow these instructions closely as their aim is to minimise your risk of infection and trauma to the eye, including from sources you may not have considered before. If you need any clarity on any of the instructions, be sure to ask. 

Your post-op guidelines may include instructions such as:

  • Resting as much as possible and avoiding strenuous activities
  • Wearing your protective eye shield overnight for the first week or so
  • Avoiding unsterile water in the operated eye, including from swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, and at the beach
  • Avoiding dirty or dusty environments
  • Completing your prescribed course of eye drops

After your eye has fully recovered from cataract surgery, it is important to keep up your routine eye tests, whether with your optometrist or ophthalmologist. Even having had your cataracts removed, it is still possible to develop other ocular conditions, such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration. Maintaining regular checkups with your eye care professional will help to take care of your eye health long after the cataracts are gone.

Call us today on (03) 9070 3580 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.