Oculase Articles

What happens during cataract surgery?

Mr Tariq Ayoub - 3 Nov 2022

It’s natural to worry about any upcoming procedure, but learning more about it can help reassure you, making you feel more confident and relaxed. In this blog, we discuss cataract surgery in-depth, including before, during, and after. Find out how you can prepare yourself to make the procedure and your recovery go as smoothly as possible.


How to prepare for cataract surgery

Roughly a week prior to your surgery, we will measure your eye’s size and shape with an ultrasound. The ultrasound is painless and allows us to choose the right lens for you. We will discuss your lens needs and preferences with you, but you can learn more about lens types here: Types of lens implants used in cataract surgery.

We may ask you not to eat or drink for 12 hours ahead of your surgery and avoid alcohol for 24 hours. You might need to stop certain medications, such as anticoagulants, as they can increase your risk of bleeding. Tell your eye specialist if you are taking any medicine or have any other health conditions.

If you wear contact lenses, you’ll need to stop wearing them for a few days in advance of the surgery. To prevent infection or inflammation, we may also prescribe eye drops to use.


What happens during cataract surgery?


Before we start the surgery, we will numb your eyes before we begin, so you don’t feel any pain. We may also give you a sedative to keep you relaxed. However, you will be awake during the surgery. Arrive free of makeup, creams, or aftershave on or near your face. We recommend wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.

We will ensure you are aware of the purpose, benefits, and risks before we start. Ask as many questions about the procedure as you need to feel fully prepared; so you have less to worry about throughout the surgery. We also cover frequently asked questions in our blog: Questions to ask about cataract surgery.



Once your eyes are numb, we use an instrument to hold your eyes open so you cannot blink. Now your eye specialist is ready to start, and the procedure itself takes between 15 and 20 minutes.

Typical cataract removal methods include:

  • Phacoemulsification – this method uses an ultrasound probe to emulsify and remove the lens in parts through a small incision.
  • Extracapsular extraction – a larger incision is used for the surgeon to remove the lens 
  • Intracapsular cataract surgery – your natural lens and its capsule are completely removed – this is not performed anymore
  • Laser-assisted cataract surgery – a laser is used to make the incision to remove the lens 

All options involve making an incision (surgical cut) to remove the lens with the cataract. An artificial lens is inserted in your empty lens capsule. You may notice bright white or coloured lights and movement, but you won’t be able to see what’s happening in your eye. Your ophthalmologist will look through a special microscope to perform the procedure.

Watch our animation below to find out more about the procedure.


After cataract surgery

We don’t usually need stitches to close the incision, but you will have a shield over your eye at night while it heals. Once the procedure is complete, we will place you in a recovery room. You may be there for around 30 minutes, and then you can go home. You should arrange for someone to take you home after as you won’t be able to drive yourself home. 

While you recover, you will need to use the eye drops provided by our specialist. You can learn more about aftercare here, including what to expect as you recover and what you should try and avoid: Top tips after cataract surgery.



It may take a few days to adjust to your new vision. During that time, you may experience double or blurry vision and a gritty feeling in your eye. Your eye might also be red and watery. For a short time, your eyes may be sensitive to light, so wearing sunglasses when outside can be comfortable. Read our blog to learn more: What sunglasses should I wear after eye surgery?

You’ll have a few follow-up appointments to monitor your eye as it recovers. You can use this time to ask questions about your recovery if you have any. Your eye should fully heal within six to eight weeks, after which you can get a new glasses prescription. Depending on your lens choice, you may not need to wear glasses or contact lenses after the procedure.


When to ask for advice

Contact us if you have any concerns during the healing process. Let us know if you experience any of the following symptoms:

Serious complications are rare, but you should keep your ophthalmologist updated about how your eye feels as you recover.


Book an appointment

At Oculase, we tailor your treatment to give you the best possible vision after your procedure. We can predict the most suitable premium lens implant using advanced diagnostic scans and AI. Book a consultation today to get started.

Mr Tariq Ayoub has performed thousands of cataract surgeries with excellent outcomes. Our outstanding video and written reviews highlight this:

Mr Ayoub performed an outstanding cataract extraction on my left eye. Thank you

I had my first ever cataract removed by Mr Ayoub and from start to finish the care and treatment experience was wonderful. I am very happy with the results and the aftercare. I would highly recommend Mr Ayoub for cataract removal.

I was referred to Mr Ayoub and his team by my optician for cataract eye surgery and Mr Ayoub was able to operate very soon afterwards. At all stages of the process, I was kept well informed about what to expect and what I needed to do, with clear explanations of the procedure and the care. The whole experience was as smooth as could be expected and I’m extremely happy with the result (remarkably better vision)

Tariq Ayoub is a highly skilled & experienced ophthalmologist and I’ve been most happy with the cataract surgery he carried out for me. I consider myself fortunate to have been under Tariq’s care, he is clearly highly committed to achieving the best outcomes for patients.

There are lots of considerations when choosing a surgeon to carry out your treatment. Learn more about what might help you decide here: Choosing the best cataract surgeon for you.

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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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