how is cataract surgery done melbourne

How is Cataract Surgery Done? Everything You Need to Know

Thousands of Australians undergo cataract surgery every year. If you’re one of them, you’re probably already familiar with the answer to how is cataract surgery done. However, if you’re still on that waiting list or are just trying to decide whether cataract surgery is something you need right now, here’s some easy reading to shed some light to explain how is cataract surgery done


How is Cataract Surgery Done? 



Once you and your eye care professional have decided the time is right, your experience with cataract surgery begins with a pre-surgery consultation. Prior to this point, your vision measurements, prescription, and any other pre-existing ocular conditions should already be known. However, some additional precise measurements are still required to properly plan your operation. These will include biometric readings to calculate the power of the artificial lens implant that will replace your cataract, known as an intraocular lens. At this appointment, your cataract surgeon may also conduct a dilated eye exam to ensure there are no other ocular conditions that have been overlooked. At this consultation, if you need more details on how is cataract surgery done or want to voice any other concerns, now is the time to do it. 



If all is well, you’ll be scheduled a time in the operating theatre. Cataract surgery is performed as a day procedure under local or topical anaesthetic. A local anaesthetic is applied as an injection around the eye area while topical anaesthetic uses numbing eyedrops instilled on the surface of your eye. You’ll also have dilating eye drops to widen the pupil so the surgeon has room to access the cataract behind it. 

Typically, cataract surgery is performed on one eye at a time to allow the first eye to heal fully before operating on the other. However, in some special circumstances, the surgeon may operate on both eyes within a very short time interval, such as the day after. 

There are two techniques of modern cataract surgery. Phacoemulsification refers to an older method, which uses manual instruments for many of the surgical steps. A newer technique is known as femtosecond laser assisted cataract surgery. As the name suggests, this method employs the use of a high precision medical-grade laser tool, which replaces many of the manual instruments used in phacoemulsification. Not all cataract surgeons offer femtosecond laser assisted cataract surgery.

surgery how is cataract surgery done melbourneOnce your eye is numbed, the surgeon will provide you with a target overhead to fix your eyes on. This helps to keep your eyes steady during the procedure. A small incision is then made near the edge of your cornea, which is the transparent dome of tissue at the very front of your eye.

If your surgeon is performing conventional cataract surgery, the incision will be created with a bladed tool, otherwise, a femtosecond laser can be used for this step. 

The cataract is contained within a membrane casing, called the capsular bag or lens capsule. Once the cataract is removed, the intraocular lens will be inserted into the capsule to replace it. To extract the cataract from the capsule, the membrane must be carefully torn open, a procedure known as capsulorhexis. This can be performed with handheld instruments or the femtosecond laser.

The cataract must then be broken into smaller fragments that will then be suctioned from the eye. Both conventional phacoemulsification and femtosecond laser assisted cataract surgery will use ultrasound energy to complete this step. However, a femtosecond laser may be used to first soften the cataract, before then applying the ultrasound probe. Advocates of femtosecond laser assisted surgery prefer this method as it requires less ultrasound energy to be applied to the eye, which may minimise postoperative inflammation. 

With the cataract extracted from the lens capsule, the intraocular lens can be inserted through the corneal incision and manipulated into position. Less commonly, the lens implant may be positioned between the cornea and the coloured iris instead, known as an anterior chamber intraocular lens. 


Post Surgery

After your procedure, your cataract surgeon will talk you through the recommended guidelines to promote a speedy recovery. This will include things like avoiding certain activities and environments, keeping the eye area clean, and using medicated eye drops. 

Your vision can take around 4 to 6 weeks to settle and clear completely. During this period, you’ll have a few review appointments with your cataract surgeon. Once he or she is satisfied that your eyes have healed completely, you will most likely be discharged back to the care of your optometrist for an update of your prescription and ongoing eyecare.  


Choosing Your Cataract Surgeon

In Australia, we’re fortunate to have access to a large number of highly skilled and experienced cataract specialists. However, this can make the choice a little overwhelming, especially when it comes to something as precious as your sight. 

If you have any friends or relatives who have had a positive experience with a particular private cataract surgeon, you may want to make enquiries at the same clinic. Consider factors such as costs, accessibility, and, if your vision is particularly bothersome, waiting times. 

The public system provides high-quality cataract surgery and many of the surgeons in public hospitals also operate privately. Be aware that although public surgery is free, you will have less of a choice with intraocular lens type and waiting lists may be up to 12 months, or even longer.


Call us on (03) 9070 3580 today.



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

eye care after cataract surgery melbourne

Eye Care After Cataract Surgery – Guidelines For Your Post-Op Healing

Even the smoothest cataract surgery is not immune to an adverse event popping up during cataract surgery recovery. Adhering to good eye care after cataract surgery is the best way of minimising your risk of complications during the post-operative healing period. Complications and adverse effects can range from sight-threatening, such as a severe eye infection, to mild irritation, such as an allergic reaction to one of your medicated eye drops. 


Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in Australia. During the operation, your eye’s cloudy lens will be removed through an incision in the front surface of the eye. In its place will be inserted an artificial lens implant, known as an intraocular lens. This whole procedure is performed under a local or topical anaesthetic. 

Although cataract surgery in Australia is considered very safe with a low risk of complications, there is always a small chance something can go wrong, whether with the surgery itself or during the recovery period. Factors that may increase your risk of a complication can include:

  • Other pre-existing eye diseases, such as a retinal tear or detachment, or age-related macular degeneration
  • A very mature or advanced cataract
  • Systemic diseases, such as diabetes
  • The use of certain medications, such as alpha-blockers

Immediately after your operation, you will be given guidelines on how to look after your eye as it heals and maximise your cataract surgery recovery. It’s important you follow these rules for eye care after cataract surgery. The specifics of your post-operative instructions may vary depending on your particular case or your cataract surgeon. If any instructions are unclear after your cataract surgery, be sure to ask your surgeon.


Eye Care After Cataract Surgery

These are some examples of general guidelines your cataract surgeon may give you for your cataract surgery recovery period. 


Keep your operated eye clean and protected

After your cataract operation, your surgeon will apply a protective plastic shield over your eye. This is to prevent any accidental bumps or knocks but also importantly, to keep you from unconsciously rubbing or pressing on your eye during sleep. For this reason, you may be advised to keep the shield on overnight for the first week or so, in addition to wearing it during the day for the first day or two. 

guidelines eye care after cataract surgery melbourneTry to keep from getting any foreign particles or substances into your eye as it’s healing. This includes makeup, facial cleaners, other soaps or shampoos, as well as dust, debris, and dirt. To achieve this, you may need to avoid certain environments or activities for a week or two, like going to the park on a windy day or cleaning the dusty house basement.

Unsterile water is also a source of infection, including the beach, the pool, and hot tubs. During your cataract surgery recovery period, your eyes are more vulnerable to infections, so it’s best to avoid any environments that have the potential to cause a problem.


Finish your medications and attend your review appointments

The purpose of your prescribed eye drop medications is to minimise harmful inflammation after the surgery and to prevent an opportunistic infection while your eyes are in a vulnerable state. A common mistake many people make is to stop using their drops as soon as their eye is feeling better. Ceasing your medications early can put you at risk of a flare-up of inflammation or sight-threatening infection, so it’s important to finish the course of drops as directed. 

You’ll have a few follow-up appointments scheduled after your surgery to make sure your eye is healing and no subtle signs of a potential complication are beginning to appear. These appointments typically happen one day after your operation, one week later, and a month after that. In between these appointments, if you think something is not right with your vision or eye, contact your cataract surgeon immediately; don’t wait for your next appointment. 


Watch out for red flags

Red flags are signs or symptoms that a sight-threatening complication is arising. It’s not uncommon to experience some mild discomfort immediately after cataract surgery. Patients typically report some degree of dryness or grittiness, and your eye will often look a little red or puffy. However, if you are experiencing any of the following, you should contact your ophthalmologist without delay. If you’re unable to get hold of them, visit your local optometrist or GP, or go to a hospital emergency.

Red flags include:

  • Loss of vision, whether increasing blur or entire areas of black/grey in your visual field
  • Any discharge from the eye
  • Increasing redness of the whites (sclera)
  • Increasing glare sensitivity
  • Seeing floating specks/lines in your vision, or any sudden flashing lights
  • Headaches or nausea
  • Double or distorted vision


Post the Post-Op Period

Remember that even after your eyes have healed successfully from your operation, good eye care after cataract surgery doesn’t end there. While you may no longer need glasses or contact lenses thanks to your new intraocular lens, it’s still important to attend regular check-ups to maintain your eye health. If you experienced complications during your surgery or during the recovery period, your ophthalmologist may want to review you again after a certain time interval. Alternatively, if all went smoothly, you may be discharged from your ophthalmologist’s care and returned to the care of your local optometrist. Depending on your age and any other existing eye conditions, you may be recommended to attend a check-up every two years or more frequently.


Call us on (03) 9070 3580 today.



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