When will I need cataract surgery?
In the early stages, some cataracts can be left untreated. When your sight deteriorates to a point where it interferes with your ability to carry out daily tasks (including seeing in low-light situations such as at night), it could be time to consider surgery.
What is the success rate?
Traditional or manual cataract surgery is considered one of the safest surgical procedures in the world today, with a success rate of 99%. Laser cataract surgery may reduce the risk of complications even further. Serious complications are rare with cataract surgery.
How long does cataract surgery take?
A typical procedure takes less than 30 minutes. Allowing for admission, preparation and recovery time, you'll be in the day surgery for around 3 hours.
Will it hurt?
No. We will administer a local anaesthetic (numbing drops) to your eye and you may also be given a sedative to help you relax.
What if I blink?
Your surgeon will ensure that your eyelid is gently held open throughout the procedure so that you cannot blink.
Will I be awake?
Probably, but not necessarily – some people even fall asleep during the surgery. You are not required to be awake for the operation.
What will I see during surgery?
You may see a bit of light and some vague movement or you may see nothing at all. You will not be able to see what the surgeon is doing to your eye.
Will my eye hurt afterwards?
You may feel a bit of discomfort a few hours after surgery but no pain.
How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?
Your sight will usually recover within days but typically fluctuates for about a month before stabilising. If you notice any significant reduction in your vision, tell your surgeon immediately. The protective shield is usually worn for the first day and your surgeon may also recommend the shield be used for the first few nights after the operation – this is usually the case if you can't stop rubbing your eyes. Cataract surgery does not usually involve stitches.
Normal daily activities such as light housework can be resumed within a couple of days. Check with your doctor if you plan to play contact sports.
How long before I can drive a car?
Driving is not recommended for the first few days after surgery to allow your eye to settle.
Can both eyes be operated on at the same time?
It is generally preferable to give the first eye a chance to settle before planning surgery and lens requirements for the second eye. Even though cataract surgery is quite safe, operating on both eyes at the same time may increase the risk of serious complications and visual impairment (e.g. if both eyes were to get infected at the same time). However, there are some rare situations where your surgeon may recommend having both eyes done at one.
When will I get the second eye done?
Your doctor will be able to help you determine when the second eye can be operated on. Although it varies, most surgery is around two weeks apart. In the case of multifocal implants, early second eye surgery hastens the recovery. Patients who are very short- or long-sighted also benefit from both eyes being operated on in quick succession, as it is common that their eyes are now significantly unbalanced. During the period between surgeries, a contact lens may be used to balance the eye that has not yet been operated on.
Will I still need glasses after cataract surgery or lens exchange?
Today's replacement lenses can also be used to correct pre-existing vision problems due to short-sightedness, longsightedness and/or astigmatism. For example, trifocal lenses provide focus at near, intermediate and far distances. These are typically the best option for achieving clear vision without glasses, although there are no guarantees. The most suitable candidates are over 55 years, rely heavily on glasses/contact lenses and are long-sighted. If you are quick to notice visual imperfections, then glasses may remain your best choice.
What are the risks?
Cataract surgery is one of the most successful procedures in medicine, so the risk factor is relatively minimal. However, as with any surgery, complications can occur and are related to the procedure itself or to the anaesthesia. Most of the complications from cataract surgery are minor and can be corrected. The success rate is high (99%), with around a 1 in 1000 risk of permanently impaired eyesight.
Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of cataract surgery so that you can make a fully informed decision. Also refer to the section 'Potential complications' at the bottom of this page.
Cataract and Laser Surgery
Laser Refractive Surgery
How long does the surgery take?
The surgery itself takes about 15 minutes per eye but you will be with us for about 90 minutes.
What if I move my eye during the laser treatment?
The Excimer laser has an infra red eye tracking system which adjusts the laser for follow any slight eye movements. This ensures the laser treats only the correct area of your eye. The eye tracker stops laser treatment if your eye moves outside the treatment area.
How soon will I be able to see clearly after LASIK?
You will be able to see your surroundings immediately after the treatment. Within 6 hours your vision will become quite clear.
When can I drive?
You should wait until your visit the day after surgery to be advised when you can drive.
When can I go back to work?
Most people require two days off work: excluding the day of surgery. Some patients may require longer, and a medical certificate is provided.
It may take a few weeks to feel completely comfortable with prolonged reading or computer use. Excessive computer work or reading, especially in air-conditioning, may make your eyes more sensitive. You may find that you tire more quickly, or cannot concentrate for as long as usual, while you are getting used to the changes in vision.
Dusty or dirty environments should be avoided for at least one week to allow the eyes time to heal and reduce the risk of infection.