The Procedure

1. What to expect before cataract surgery

When you attend the Cataract Care Centre for an assessment you will undergo a complete set of tests
which will assess your vision and the health of your eyes. These tests will be performed by Dr Burgess
and his Orthoptist (Ophthalmic Assistant).

The orthoptist will test your vision and your eye pressure and, if necessary, will take a measurement of the length of your eye to determine the strength of plastic lens you require. These tests are not painful.

You will then have dilating drops instilled that will increase the size of your pupil and allow Dr Burgess to look inside your eye. Dr Burgess will look at both the front and back of your eye and provide a comprehensive report on the health of your eyes. If you need an operation, Dr Burgess will provide details of the operation, expected outcome, success rate and risks involved. This first visit may take up to two hours. 

We suggest that you bring a family member or friend when you come for these tests. Your vision may be blurred due to the dilating drops that we use to perform our tests and driving a car is not recommended.

2. What to expect during cataract surgery

Painless Cataract Surgery

With recent advances in anaesthesia, cataract surgery is a painless experience. For most patients the operation is performed with anaesthetic drops. There are no needles or injections near the eye and there is no increased risk of bruising or bleeding. Visual recovery is almost immediate. 

Prior to your surgery you will be taken to the pre-operative area where nursing staff will administer drops to dilate your pupil. You will be assessed by our Anaesthetist, who will also help you to relax with some intravenous medication or sedation.

Just prior to the surgery your eye and eyelid will be cleaned with antiseptic and a sterile plastic drape applied to the clean area. There will be plenty of fresh air and oxygen to breathe underneath the drape. During the operation the Anaesthetist will monitor your pulse, blood pressure and comfort during the operation. 

During the operation you will not feel any pain but will likely be aware of some movement and light pressure or touch. You will not see the operation but will most likely see bright coloured lights.

Some patients are not suitable for topical anaesthesia and occasionally we use local anaesthetic injections to put the eye asleep, or even a full general anaesthetic if the patient prefers.

When surgery is finished you will be given a light refreshment and, after a period of observation, you will be allowed to go home.

When the anaesthetic wears off there may be some slight discomfort –similar to an eyelash or grain of sand rubbing on your eye. This is normal and should be gone by the following day.

If the pain worries you on the day of surgery, we suggest you take one or two Panadeine every four hours.

Most patients having the surgery under topical anaesthesia or even general anaesthesia will not require a patch to cover their eye. There will be some immediate recovery of vision, however the vision is normally blurred on the first evening. It is also common to see halos around lights during the evening following the operation.  There may be some residual blur the next morning when patient wakes, however the quality of vision should rapidly improve within the first one or two days.  It is very common to experience some flickering or a shadow on the edge of the vision for the first few days.

Phacoemulsification (“Phaco”)

Phacoemulsification involves the breaking down of the eye’s internal lens with an ultrasonic handpiece.

Typically this begins with a very small incision, only three millimetres ( 1/8 inch ) wide, on the side of the eye. The incision is so small and constructed like a valve that stitches are rarely required. Following the incision, the fluid within the eye is replaced with a high-viscosity material that lets the surgeon work within the eye without it collapsing.

Anatomically the lens is similar to a grape in that it has a skin (in medical terms a capsule). A crucial step in the operation is to use tiny forceps within the eye to tear or peel away a circular opening in the front part of the capsule or skin of the lens. Then the internal cloudy part of the lens is broken into small fragments and further emulsified with an ultrasound probe (phacoemulsification). This is then sucked out of the eye. There is no laser used during the operation.

Phacoemulsification has the advantage of causing much less trauma to the eye than older methods of cataract removal. The tiny incision allows more rapid healing and a faster return of vision 

Intraocular Lens (“IOL”)

Once the cataract has been removed the surgeon replaces the natural lens with a soft and flexible artificial intraocular lens (IOL). This is held in place by the residual skin or capsule of the lens.

The lenses can be folded for insertion through the same incision used during phacoemulsification. Once inside the eye, the lens gently unfolds and is set into place. Foldable lens implants have been available in Australia for over ten years.  Worldwide, more than six million of these lenses have been used in cataract surgery.

The lens, which is made of special materials, requires no care and will not be rejected by the eye. Intraocular lenses come in different powers, just like glasses. Each patient’s lens is chosen especially for them based on the pre-op scans and desired outcome. Many people discover that the lens implant gives them better vision than they had before they developed cataracts and with greater freedom from their glasses.

3. What to expect after cataract surgery

The majority of patients experience good vision within a day or two after surgery.  Most normal activities can be resumed within a day of surgery. In general you should lead a normal life, but avoid very strenuous tasks.

You may bend down to put on shoes and socks or pick things up. You may read, watch TV and sleep in any position. You are allowed to shower and wash your hair, but must not get soap in your eye.

Patients should not

  • rub their eye
  • play contact sport
  • swim for one week following surgery
  • wear eye makeup for one week following surgery 

Vision should continue to improve until best vision is reached in a matter of two to three weeks. Sunglasses may be needed for the first few days as the eye may be sensitive to light.

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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