Cataract Surgery Basics

Cataract Surgery Basics

As is discussed in the cataract sections of, a cataract is the cloudy natural lens of the eye.  When the cataract becomes more cloudy with time, it causes blurry vision and cataract surgery will be required to improve the vision.

After being evaluated and discussing your treatment plan with Dr MacIntyre, he will assess your need for further testing that may be required to ensure you have the best outcome.  He will measure the length of your eye, the curvature of your cornea, and the thickness of your lens to determine the ideal type of intraocular lens (IOL) and the appropriate power of the IOL to be placed at the time of surgery. 

Anaesthesia:  Cataract surgery is usually performed under local anaesthesia, either with topical anaesthetic drops or with a small injection around the eye.  If you are particularly anxious about surgery, a sedative can be given to help you relax during the procedure. 

Surgical location and timing:  Cataract surgery is typically performed as an outpatient procedure.  You will arrive at the surgical centre or hospital and meet the nursing staff and anaesthetist prior to your surgery.  The procedure usually takes between 10 to 20 minutes depending on the individual nature of the cataract.  Dr MacIntyre will advise you if it is expected to be longer than this.  If you are having femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS), it will require a bit more time.  The laser portion of your procedure is performed in a separate room adjacent to the operating theatre, where the cataract will be completely removed. 

Cataract removal: High powered ultrasound, or phacoemulsification, will be used through a small incision in the side of the eye to remove your cataract.  This causes less disturbance to the eye and allows for fast healing and rapid visual recovery.  The incision is so small that stitches are generally not required. 

IOL placement: After the removal of the cataract an IOL will be placed through the same small incision.  The lens is injected in a folded configuration and will unfold once inside the eye.  Please refer to the section of the website relating to Cataract Surgery Options for IOL choices and refractive targets.

Postoperative care:  You will move to the recovery room after the completion of the procedure, where the nursing staff will give you instructions on caring for the eye.  Most patients are ready to head home after a short recovery time.  It is important to arrange for someone to drive you home. 

Postoperative expectations: If topical anaesthetic is used, you will be advised to start your drops on the same day as surgery.  If a local injection anaesthetic is given, you will be asked to keep the patch and shield on the eye overnight.  You can remove the patch in the morning and start your eye drops as directed.  Visual recovery is usually very quick.  You can expect some mild irritation and light sensitivity for a few days, which should improve each day after surgery.  It is important to follow the postoperative instructions, use your eye drops as directed, and visit Dr MacIntyre as scheduled.  You should avoid rubbing the eye, heavy exercise, and water directly to the eye for at least 1 week after surgery. 

Please call either the Armadale (03 9079 0888) or Bundoora (03 9466 8822) office to make an appointment with Dr MacIntyre for a cataract evaluation or to discuss your cataract surgery options in greater detail. 

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