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Questions to ask about cataract surgery

Mr Tariq Ayoub - 14 Nov 2022

After your eye specialist has suggested surgery to treat your cataracts, and before the procedure,  you may have many questions. Read these frequently asked questions and be confident about your upcoming treatment.


Frequently asked questions

Below we answer some of the frequently asked questions about this common and safe surgical procedure. You will need to ask your ophthalmologist some questions as the answer will depend on your circumstances. 


What is a cataract?

People often experience cataracts due to ageing. There are many methods of managing cataracts. However, at the moment, surgery is currently the only way to permanently treat a cataract. Find out more here, as explained in our blog: What are my treatment options for cataracts? But cataract surgery is currently the only way to permanently treat a cataract.


I’m scared of cataract surgery. What do I do?

It’s normal to be a little scared or anxious about a procedure involving your eyes. Some people have shared they are scared because they don’t know what it involves or because the procedure involves their eyes.

To feel more confident about your upcoming procedure, we recommend learning the steps of the procedure. In general, we are more scared of the things we don’t understand. Your ophthalmologist can answer any questions you may have to ease your worries. They also provide preoperative education and counselling.


Who will perform the procedure?

An ophthalmologist performs cataract surgery. Your optician may refer you to an NHS ophthalmologist, or you can choose to have treatment privately. 

Supervised trainees often perform NHS procedures. If you would prefer the guarantee that a highly-experienced Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon will perform your surgery, you may choose private treatment.

If you have yet to choose an eye specialist, our blog may help your decision: Choosing the best cataract surgeon for you.


What can I expect from cataract surgery?

During the procedure, we remove your natural lens with the cataract and replace it with an artificial lens. Your eyes will be numb to ensure the procedure is painless. However, you may feel some discomfort after the surgery. Visit our blog to discover what happens during cataract surgery.


What if I have another health problem?

If you have a health condition that affects your eyesight, your cataract surgery may be more complex. Conditions complicating the surgery include glaucoma, diabetes, and corneal conditions, such as keratoconus. Learn more about complex cataract surgery or speak to your eye specialist about how your condition might affect your procedure


Will I still need to wear glasses?

Depending on the type of lens implant inserted in your eye, you may need to wear glasses after your procedure for distance, intermediate or near vision. For example, you will require glasses if you have a standard monofocal lens implant while a Trifocal Advance Technology Lens generally helps you achieve glasses freedom. Find out more here: Types of lens implants used in cataract surgery.

Your general eye health and other health conditions will also affect your need for glasses. Speak to your ophthalmologist about your circumstances.

Check out this video in which our Consultant Ophthalmologist answers the question: Will I still need glasses after cataract surgery?


What are the benefits?

Cataract surgery is a quick and effective surgery. Without the cataract, your vision will be better, leading to a better quality of life. If you have refractive cataract surgery, we also correct your refractive errors, further improving your vision. 

As discussed above, you may also have less reliance on glasses. For example, bifocal and multifocal glasses can affect your depth perception and cause falls as a result. With better vision, you may experience fewer falls.

Another surprising benefit of treatment is it may improve your risk of dementia. Some studies have shown that cataract removal may reduce the risk of developing dementia.


What are the risks?

After surgery, we expect you to have some pain, double or blurred vision and redness. You might also experience temporary light sensitivity, glare or halos around lights. While rare, complications include retinal detachment, endophthalmitis, and vision loss. We discuss these and more here: What are the risks of cataract surgery?

A common complication is posterior capsular opacification (PCO). It may occur within six months, but PCO can also cause blurred vision years after your procedure. It may feel like you have another cataract, but cataracts cannot return after surgical removal.

Mr Ayoub discusses this further in our video: What are the risks and side effects of cataract surgery?


What happens if you blink during cataract surgery?

You cannot blink during cataract surgery due to an instrument that holds your eye open, called a lid speculum. Before we use the lid speculum, we numb your eye with numbing eye drops and cleanse your eye.


What happens if you move?

If you move suddenly and without warning, you risk damaging your eye. That’s why you should let us know if you have a cold or are sick. We recommend delaying the surgery until you feel better and are less likely to sneeze or cough. 

If you feel a cough or sneeze coming during the procedure, let us know immediately. Do not attempt to hold it in, as this isn’t always possible. To keep your head in place during the procedure, your head will be on a headrest. We may use sedation to relax you. You also have the option of having the surgery under general anaesthesia. Your ophthalmologist will discuss their plan with you before the procedure takes place.


Should I have the procedure on the NHS or privately?

Many factors influence the decision to use an NHS ophthalmologist or a private one. NHS specialists have the same level of expertise, though are often limited by cost restrictions and time. Read our blog to find out more: Why should I choose private cataract surgery?


Questions to ask after cataract surgery

While we believe you should have all the information you need before your procedure, there may be answers you forget. It’s always good to double-check you know what to do to care for your eyes afterwards.


How long does it take to recover?

It can take six to eight weeks to heal from cataract surgery fully. While you recover, there are certain activities that you should avoid. Read our blog to learn more, including when you can exercise and drive again: Top tips after cataract surgery


What activities can I do?

For the first few days, rest and avoid exerting yourself. We recommend reading, watching TV and using your computer to practice using your eyes. After two days, you can shower, but don’t wet your eyes during the first week. You can walk and do some gentle stretches. However, do not bend at the waist as it can increase intraocular pressure.


How do I protect my eyes?

There are many ways to protect your eyes after your surgery. For example, avoid dusty environments and wear sunglasses outdoors. Our blog – What sunglasses should I wear after eye surgery? – explains why and what is the best choice for your eyes. Avoid bright or flashing lights for a few days as your eyes heal. Monitor any surgery side effects and attend all your follow-up appointments to ensure your eyes are recovering as they should.


Book an appointment

You may have numerous questions to ask about your procedure; hopefully, our blog has answered many of these. Our ophthalmologist, Mr Tariq Ayoub, regularly performs cataract surgery, including complex procedures. His outcomes are far superior to the expected national outcome benchmark. If you want your surgery performed by a highly experienced expert, contact us.


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About the author

Mr Tariq Ayoub
Mr Tariq Ayoub, Consultant Ophthalmologist

Mr Ayoub has been rated as one of the top eye surgeons in the UK. He is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon in London, based at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, where he is also the Lead for the Emergency Department at Western Eye Hospital.

0330 128 1616

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