Cataract Surgery

Helping you to see clearly again

Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed eye operation. It has a high success rate due to the high-level of expertise amongst Australian surgeons.

We offer the latest technique of laser-assisted cataract surgery which provides more accuracy. All your cataract removal options will be clearly outlined to you by your surgeon. We provide a highly personalised service and our team are on hand to answer all your questions.

When is the best time to treat cataracts?

Many people believe cataracts have to be ‘ripe’ (in a highly advanced stage) before they can be removed. This is no longer true. Today, cataract surgery is a procedure that can be typically performed as soon as you and your physician feel your vision interferes with the quality of your life.

What happens if cataracts go untreated?

Over time, the clouded area of your lens can become larger and thicker, causing your sight to become worse. This could take anywhere from a few months to many years. Eventually, your entire lens can cloud and cause blindness.

How successful is cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery has an overall success rate of 99% or greater. Continuous innovations in techniques and instruments make the procedure safer than ever.

Can cataracts come back after surgery?

Once a cataract has been removed it cannot return. However, over time, patients may complain that their vision has once again become cloudy. This may be due to cloudiness of the back surface of the new lens and can be treated easily with a small, once only, laser procedure.

What are the risks of cataract surgery?

As with any operation there is always some risk of complication. Approximately 99% of cataract cases are very successful. There is an overall incidence of complications of about 1% of which only 1 in 500 of these are severe. 

Rare complications such as intraocular heamorrhage, acute infection can be severe and even cause loss of vision in extremely rare cases. Other complications can include glaucoma, corneal clouding and retinal detachment; but these are extremely uncommon. Complications can occur during surgery with the dislocation of the cataract, or part of it, into the posterior segment of the eye.

These risks will all be explained to your during your initial consultation with the eye surgeon.

Is cataract surgery covered by Medicare?

Cataract surgery is generally considered a medically necessary surgical procedure and usually is covered, at least in part, by Medicare.

Your eye surgeon, in your first appointment, will help determine if your vision is impacted to the level that is considered medically necessary by Medicare. Based on the recommended treatment, some premium treatments may have out-of-pocket expenses that Medicare will not cover. This will all be explained so you can make an informed decision.

Types of cataract surgery

Phacoemulsification

The most common technique for cataract surgery is phacoemulsification. The surgeon makes a very small incision (about 3mm) near the border of the cornea and sclera or in the cornea. 

The natural lens is then suctioned away with a tiny probe. The artificial lens, known as the Intra Ocular Lens (IOL) is then inserted into the eye. The incision is so small that it often requires no stitches.

The operation takes only 30-45 minutes. It is a day procedure and is associated with only minimal discomfort. Local anaesthetic and sedation are given to reduce anxiety.

After surgery the eye is covered with a shield for protection. Patients return the following morning for the surgeon to review the results and to go through post-surgery instructions.

Laser-assisted cataract surgery​

At Envision Eye Centre we offer the newest surgical technique in cataract surgery, laser-assisted cataract removal. This is when the incision and the breaking up of the lens are done with the assistance of a laser, known as a femtosecond laser. The advantages of laser assisted cataract surgery include:

  • More precise incisions
  • Gentler, lower energy procedure

Laser cataract surgery is a new bladeless surgery technique, first used in 2011 in Australia. The new technology uses a computer guided Femtosecond laser to perform the early stages of the cataract operation, cutting the tissue with a degree of precision that manual techniques struggle to match.

Femtosecond laser technology has already been well proven in Laser vision correction surgery such as LASIK for more than ten years with well over 10 million procedures performed to date.

Refractive Lens Exchange

This operation closely resembles cataract surgery. It may be suitable for some patients even though they have only a minor or no cataract. The objective is to relieve these patients of the dependence on glasses and contact lenses when other treatments, such as laser vision correction, are not possible..

Preparing for Surgery

What to expect for your cataract surgery

Prior to surgery

  • We will outline all the fees associated with your operation. These may include Surgeons fees, Anaesthetist fees, Assisting Doctors fees, prosthetics items or implants and hospital fees. Please note, in some cases the Assisting Doctors fees may not be covered by Medicare or your private health fund. Please refer to your Financial Informed Consent that we provide outlining the costs of your surgery. We can provide assistance in understanding this for you.
  • Cataract and lens surgeries are performed as day procedures. You will receive detailed instructions about your specific fasting and the taking of any of your regular medications prior to your surgery. You will need usually need to fast for 6 hours prior to your cataract surgery.
  • If you are using eye drops or medications, continue as usual unless otherwise advised. Take any tablets with a small amount of water 6 hours prior to the admission time.
  • Wear comfortable, warm clothes as the theatre is set at a specific temperature and humidity to ensure ideal operating temperatures for the equipment..

During the procedure

  • On the day of your surgery, your pupil will be dilated using eye drops and your eye will be prepped for surgery.
  • You may be given a mild sedative. A local anaesthetic will be applied to your eye and you will be operated on in the laser suite and/or operating theatre.
  • Once the surgery is complete, a protective cover will be placed over your eye.​
  • You will then be moved to the recovery area and offered something to eat and drink. After resting, you will be able to go home – you will not allowed to drive home or take public transport so remember to arrange for someone to pick you up.
  • You will be discharged with eye drops and instructions on how to use them and also how to clean around your eye. It’s normal to experience some discomfort, including itching, sensitivity to light and a slight discharge. If you have had a previous allergic reaction to eye drops, let your surgeon know.
  • A follow-up appointment is normally scheduled within 48 hours of the operation to make sure your eye is healing properly.

After surgery

  • It is recommended that you rest your eyes immediately after surgery by taking a nap Within several hours after surgery, most people are able to see well enough to watch some television for a short period of time. Cataract surgery is only performed on one eye at a time, as a result, you may notice an imbalance in your vision until the second eye is operated on (from 1–4 weeks later).
  • It is normal for vision to be blurry in the beginning. Vision will normally begin to improve within a few days of the surgery. It’s also normal for your eye to feel itchy and to experience mild discomfort for a couple of days – your doctor will ask you to wear an eye patch or protective shield at night to ensure you don’t rub your eye while you sleep. This discomfort should disappear after a few days.
  • The recovery from cataract surgery involves a gradual recovery of the eye. Adjustments in vision however will occur for a few months after surgery.

Post-operative recovery instructions

You should NOT:

  • Undertake any strenuous activities such as jogging, swimming, gardening etc. for 2 weeks
  • Bend down or stoop for 1 week after surgery. If you must bend, bend from your knees (you may incline your head forwards to eat, brush teeth etc).
  • Performa any heavy lifting (nothing heavier than a light kitchen chair) for 2 weeks
  • Wear make up near the eyes for at least 2 weeks
  • Drive your car for at least 1 week to 10 days, ensuring you meet RTA standards
  • Drink alcohol nor travel alone if you have received sedation as part of the operation. Your body can take up to 24 hours for the sedation to wear off.

You should AVOID:

  • Violent sneezing, nose blowing or coughing if possible
  • Straining if you are constipated – use a safe laxative
  • Getting your face wet when showering or washing your hair for 1 week (this can be done at the hairdressers).

You should DO the following:

  • Contact us immediately if you have severe pain, severe discharge from the eye or have a severe reduction or loss of vision. You will be provided an after hours contact number in the case of emergency.
  • Wear your eye shield we give you to bed for at least the first 3 days after the surgery
  • Bathe or use a hand shower, taking care to avoid any direct water pressure on your eyes and face
  • Gently clean your eyes using cotton wool/gauze and cooled down boiled water
  • Take care not to poke your operated eye with your fingers, comb etc
  • Protect your eyes from glare with sunglasses
  • Take care when playing with small children
  • Wear your prescription glasses as advised (new glasses may be prescribed approximately 4-6 weeks later)
  • Use your eye drops as instructed and the eye shield at night
  • Confirm with your doctor when to restart your medications that were stopped prior to your operation
  • Make sure a responsible adult stays with you for 24 hours after surgery if possible.

You should be AWARE of:

  • Feeling nauseous, there are no food restrictions, however should you feel nauseated, begin with fluids then progress to light foods.
  • Once the local anaesthetic wears off, you may experience some pain. Panadol or Panadeine may be taken.
  • Bruising, this may occur around the eye at the anaesthetic site. This should settle without the need for treatment.
  • Fever, a fever is not expected to develop, but if you feel warm after the operation, please inform the nursing staff at the hospital. Your temperature will be taken and if your temperature exceeds 38 degrees celsius, your eye specialist will be informed.
  • Blurred vision, it is normal for your vision to be blurred after your operation. This may fluctuate for several weeks but will gradually improve.
  • Wearing your prescription glasses as advised (new glasses may be prescribed approximately 4-6 weeks later)
  • Using your eye drops as instructed and the eye shield at night

Expected recovery time from cataract surgery

While cataract surgery is the most performed and successful surgery worldwide, it is still surgery and you will need some time to recover. Recovery will vary from person to person.  

Stable vision is not usually achieved for approximately three weeks after surgery. Until this time people may not be able to read with the operated eye, despite having good distance vision. However, attempting to read will do no harm. 

Clear vision depends on both the eye and the brain working together, the best thing you can do to ensure a speedy recovery is to resume your normal activities as soon as your doctor recommends that you do so. Do the things you do everyday – read, watch television, work on crafts, use a computer, drive and engage in gentle physical activities. Perform a range of activities that require a full range of vision. And lastly, be patient. Your new lens is a tool that your body has to learn how to use.

Once the vision is sufficiently stable you will be able to order any necessary spectacles.