Because everyone develops cataracts as they get older or due to conditions such as diabetes, cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the world. Like any type of surgery, complications can occur during cataract surgery but are infrequent. It is also useful to know what sort of vision you can expect.
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95% of patients having cataract surgery who otherwise have normal and healthy eyes achieve driving standard or better vision without glasses after surgery. In eyes with other eye conditions, 75% reach the driving standard or better vision. The outcomes of surgery are thus excellent.
Cataract surgery is safe, has a very low complication rate and excellent visual outcomes.
Wherever you have your surgery, choose a consultant eye surgeon with experience of cataract surgery and other front of the eye surgeries (corneal and anterior segment subspecialist). Check that they are Fellows of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, and members of organisations such as the Australian, European or American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons. Ask them what their complication rates are and what measures are in place should you be unlucky enough to have a complication.
For the vast majority of patients, cataract surgery is performed under local anaesthetic with sedation. Whilst you will be awake, you will have little awareness of your eye. It will be numb from the anaesthetic and will not be able to see or feel the details of the operation. This technique allows the operation to be performed safely even if you have other health problems.
For most people it’s within a day, with vision reaching its maximum level of improvement after about a month.
Your eye may feel a little gritty, sometimes described like having an eyelash or grain of sand in the eye for a few days after surgery. Some patients feel no discomfort at all. Most patients will not experience any major discomfort.
Patients will have a follow-up appointment the day after surgery, then another appointment 1-3 week later in order to check on the healing process vision improvements and address any concerns. After 4-6 weeks patients may complete an eye test by their optometrist and update their spectacles if required.
Many patients can completely dispense with glasses for distance vision, although most will still require reading glasses. If you wish to be 100% glasses free – speak to your surgeon about premium, multifocal intraocular lenses, including trifocal and extended depth of focus lenses.
Cataracts occur when the natural lens becomes cloudy, once the natural lens is removed a cataract cannot develop again. The new artificial lens which is implanted does not develop cataracts.
You should be able to return to work within 1-2 weeks after surgery. If you work from home and simply use a computer, you can resume work as soon as you feel comfortable to do so.
You will have had sedation for the surgery and are legally required to not drive for 24 hours after. Beyond that period, you may drive again when your vision has cleared, and you feel ready. For most people, this takes a couple of days, but may take longer. We recommend that you postpone air travel for at least one week after surgery.
Read more about cataract surgery at Forest Eye Surgery
Learn more about cataracts
All surgical procedures carry some risk. The information provided here is for general educational purposes only. Please contact Forest Eye Surgery to find out what type of cataract surgery is appropriate for your individual situation.