How to prepare for Cataract Surgery
Eating, drinking and medications
If your operation is under a local anaesthetic, you can eat and drink as normal before and after the operation. You should take your regular medicines as you would normally. To reduce anxiety, some people may be offered may be offered a sedative drug to help them relax during the procedure. If you think you may need sedation, please talk to your doctor.
If you are having a general anaesthetic, you will need to fast before your operation. Fasting means that you cannot eat or drink anything (except water) for six hours before surgery. We will give you clear instructions about whether you need to fast and when to start fasting. It is important to follow the instructions. If there is food or liquid in your stomach during the anaesthetic it could come up to the back of your throat and damage your lungs. You should take your essential regular medications with a small sip of water only.
If you are diabetic, you will be given instructions by our pre-assessment nurses about your diabetic medications. Please bring with you a sweet drink in case your sugar level falls low. If you take warfarin, we will have asked you to have your INR blood test checked the week before surgery. If it is high, it may need to be repeated on the day of surgery. Depending on the result, we may need to reschedule your operation. If you take a diuretic (water tablet) in the morning, it may be better to take the tablet after surgery instead of beforehand. Please bring a list of your medications with you.
Giving my consent (permission)
The staff caring for you may need to ask your permission to perform a particular treatment or investigation. You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you have agreed to the treatment and that you understand the benefits, risks and alternatives. If there is anything you don’t understand or if you need more time to think about it, please tell the staff caring for you.
Remember, it is your decision. You can change your mind at any time, even if you have signed the consent form. Let staff know immediately if you change your mind. Your wishes will be respected at all times.
What should I expect on the day of surgery?
Please allow a half day attendance in our unit if your operation is under a local anaesthetic, and a full day if your operation is under a general anaesthetic. If you are having your operation under local anaesthetic, you will need to be able to lie flat for approximately 30 minutes. You will also need to be able to keep your head still during the surgery. If you are unable to do this, please discuss this with your pre-assessment nurse.
After your operation, you may or may not have an eye pad and shield over your eye, depending on your surgeon. Once you have recovered from the anaesthetic, you will receive your eye drops including antibiotics and steroids, an instruction sheet about caring for your eye, and details of your next appointment. You will then be discharged and can go home.
Will I feel any pain?
During the night after your operation, you may experience some mild discomfort. Please take simple pain relief tablets as required. The drops you have been given should also help to relieve the irritation and are usually required for up to four weeks after your operation. Before you leave the hospital, we will give you specific instructions on how often to use your eye drops and when you should stop using them. Your vision may take up to a few weeks to improve. It is normal to experience some redness, watering, or grittiness of the eye, but you should never have severe pain. In general, symptoms should gradually improve as time passes. If any symptoms get worse, please contact us or attend nearby eye casualty.
What do I need to do after I go home?
We generally do not recommend driving until you have been seen in clinic. The amount of time that you will need to take off work depends on the nature of your job. Please discuss this with your doctor.
Do I have to wear glasses after the surgery?
In most cases we aim for you to see as well as possible without glasses for distance. However, you will need new reading glasses after the operation. It is recommended that you wait four to six weeks after surgery before visiting your local optician. Patients who need cataract surgery to the other eye sometimes prefer to wait until they have had the operation before getting new glasses. Rarely, you may end up being more long sighted or short sighted than we had anticipated. If this occurs, you may need a stronger glasses prescription or a further procedure.
What should I do if I have a problem?
Please contact us if you have any problems or concerns. It is important to contact us if you have any of the following:
Severe pain after surgery
Increasing redness, pain and blurring of the vision in the days or weeks after surgery
Worsening vision – especially if you find that your vision initially improves after surgery, but then starts to decline.
Will I have a follow-up appointment?
Yes. The timing of your next appointment depends on your surgery, and is usually either the day after surgery or one to two weeks after surgery. If you are not attending the next day, you will receive a telephone call from us the following day to check how you are getting on.