Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions, if you still have a question
or would like more information, please contact us.

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01. How do I know I may have a cataract?

Cataracts vary in their development from person to person, so too the symptoms also differ. Some common symptoms of a cataract are as follows:

  • Blurred vision
  • A gradual loss of colour vision - objects appear duller
  • Difficulty reading
  • An increasing need for more light to see clearly
  • Glare
  • A tendency to become more near-sighted because of the increasing density of the lens
  • Frequent changes of prescription glasses
  • An increased sensitivity to sunlight or car headlights
  • Double vision, even if only one eye is open

Cataracts DO NOT cause pain.

Most people developing cataracts experience only some of these symptoms. Similarly, noticing these symptoms does not necessarily indicate the presence of a cataract as some of these symptoms may be found with other problems

02. How is a cataract diagnosed?

A cataract is diagnosed by your doctor or optometrist. Your GP can diagnose a cataract however optometrists and ophthalmologists have specialised microscopes for examining the eye. A complete eye check includes a detailed history as well as vision testing and recording of the intra-ocular pressure. Drops are instilled to dilate the pupil. This aids in the visualization of the lens as well as the retina and optic nerve at the back of the eye.

These drops usually last for up to two hours.

Mature cataracts can be seen with the naked eye however most cataracts are diagnosed by checking the clarity of the lens with a microscope.

03. Are there different types of cataracts?

Yes. The most common type of cataract affects the central core of the lens. There is a general hardening and yellowing of the lens with age and this is called a nuclear cataract. It can be accelerated by smoking or previous eye surgery.

The central core of the lens is surrounded by a softer material called the cortex. This may also opacify, and is called a cortical cataract. It may be seen at the front or back of the lens.

It is more commonly seen in younger patients and tends to progress more rapidly than a nuclear cataract. It can be associated with diabetes or certain medications.

04. Is surgery the only option to treat a cataract?

Surgery is the only way to remove a cataract. However, just because you have a cataract does not mean that you have to have it removed. With some nuclear cataracts changing the glasses prescription can improve your vision enough to defer surgery.

05. When should cataracts be removed?

Cataract surgery only becomes necessary if you are not happy with your vision and want to see better. The decision to have an operation is up to the patient and not the doctor. In our clinic complications are rare and the balance of risks versus benefits will be discussed when you see Dr Burgess.

06. Should I wait for the cataract to mature?

This is an old-fashioned concept and was generally advised when surgery was a high-risk procedure and often with poor results. Modern microsurgery is minimally invasive and associated with much quicker recovery of vision and far fewer complications. It is one of the most common operations in Australia. With better outcomes the trend now is to operate earlier than in the past. Waiting for the cataract to mature makes the surgery more difficult and increases the complication rate.

07. Can both eyes be done together?

Technically this is possible but not recommended. Usually the second eye is done once the first eye has recovered and the risks of serious complications have passed. Most patients end up having their second eye done around a month after the first operation.  In some patients with strong spectacle prescriptions it is advisable to have the second eye done relatively early to avoid problems with binocular balance. Another reason not to operate on both eyes at the same time is that the results of the first eye can be used to improve the accuracy of the predicted result of the second eye.

08. Are lasers used to remove cataracts?

Because lasers are used in some other eye operations, it is a common misconception that lasers are used in cataract surgery. Lasers can be used to break up the cataract but ultrasound is the preferred method by almost all surgeons in developed countries. Lasers are commonly used after cataract surgery to cut a window through the posterior capsule or membrane that is left in place at the time of the operation to hold the new plastic lens in place.

09. Does cataract surgery hurt?

With advances in anaesthesia, cataract surgery is a painless experience. Most patients can have the operation performed with anaesthetic drops and supplemental medication to help relaxation. There are no needles or injections near the eye, there is no increased risk of bruising or bleeding and the visual recovery is almost immediate. Some patients are not suitable for anaesthetic drops and we use a local anaesthetic injection. This is not injected into the eye but around the eye to numb the area and prevent any eye movement. Our anaesthetist will give you some medication prior to the injection to again make this a painless experience.

10. Will I be asleep during cataract surgery?

Most patients will have their operation under local anaesthesia. They will be awake but not experience pain or be able to see the operation. They are usually given intravenous sedation by the anaesthetist to help them relax. Some patients who are not suitable for a local anaesthetic, or who prefer to be asleep, can have a general anaesthetic.

11. How long will the surgery take?

A typical operation takes less than ten minutes.  During this time our Anaesthetist will monitor your pulse, blood pressure and comfort during the operation.

12. How long will I be in the hospital?

Patients usually spend less than three hours at the hospital or surgery centre and are allowed to go home the same day.

13. Do I need to stop warfarin or aspirin before cataract surgery?

No. Most patients have their operation under anaesthetic drops. There is no bleeding during the operation and it is important to take all normal medications.

14. How long before I can see after surgery?

Every patient and every eye is different. Patients having operations under anaesthetic drops or a general anaesthetic will recover vision immediately but it is often blurred for the first day. Patients having an anaesthetic injection will have a patch covering their eye until they see Dr Burgess the next morning.

15. When can I resume normal activities?

Most normal activities can be resumed within a day of surgery. In general you should lead a normal life but avoid very strenuous tasks or contact sports. Do not rub your eye and avoid swimming for one week after your surgery. You may bend over and you are allowed to shower and wash your hair but avoid getting soap in your eye. Your ability to drive will depend on how quickly your vision recovers and the difference between your eyes after the surgery. Ask Dr Burgess when you are allowed to drive.

16. When can I wear make-up?

Do not wear any make-up on the day of surgery. We need your face to be as clean as possible. After the operation also avoid using mascara for the first week. You can apply other products to the skin of the eyelid three days after the operation.

17. Will I need glasses after cataract surgery?

Most patients have good unaided distance vision following cataract surgery, however some patients will require glasses to fine tune their distance vision for optimum results. Most patients will require glasses for reading or other activities that require close vision. Some patients prefer to stay short sighted after cataract surgery, wearing glasses only for long distance. We recommend that you see your optometrist approximately one week after your last visit with Dr Burgess.

18. Can I have a multifocal implant?

Multifocal implants have been around for over 15 years. There have been some recent innovations and improvements, however they do not suit every patient. They generally split the incoming light into multiple focal points with subsequent loss of quality and contrast of the image for each focal point. They are commonly associated with unwanted effects at night, particularly halos and glare. Multifocal implants reduce your need for glasses after cataract surgery and are suitable for some patients. They have a higher acceptance rate in patients who have previously been long-sighted and in patients that have successfully used multifocal contact lenses.

19. Can my cataract come back?

No, once a cataract has been removed it cannot return. However, over time, the clear membrane that holds the lens in place may become cloudy. Symptoms similar to your cataract may return. This can be easily treated by a simple laser procedure performed in our office.

20. How long will my implant last?

Implants were invented in 1949 and have steadily improved since then. We expect them to last a lifetime. There have been rare instances of implants developing problems. These implants can be replaced.

Do you have an enquiry?

The Cataract Care Centre is run according to world's best practice. We are a boutique practice with a simple goal – helping clients achieve optimum eyesight by providing the finest quality eye care available with a skilled and dedicated team of professionals. This ensures you receive the best, most convenient and cost-effective treatment possible. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us or use our enquiry form.

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