How to Prepare for Cataract Surgery – 6 Top Tips

By: Samer Hamada


You have had your consultation with an ophthalmologist and you have set the dates for the cataract surgery, but what do you need to do next? Here are 6 simple tips on how to prepare for cataract surgery.

1) Glasses

If you are having both eyes treated it is likely both eyes with be done on separate days, roughly 1 week apart. This means once the first eye is treated, you will have a good eye and a bad eye, so you may struggle with your vision in this time. The best thing to do if you do find this difficult, is to ask your optician to remove the lens in your glasses for the eye that has been treated, they can leave it empty or they may be able to put in a prescription free lens. You can also wear a contact lens in the untreated eye to help, but remember depending on the type of contact lenses you wear, these must be left out for a certain time before surgery, this can vary from 24 hours to 2-3 weeks, so it may be best to arrange for some glasses to have on standby.

2) Cleaning Your Eyes

You won’t be able to get water in your eyes for about 2 weeks following the surgeries, this is to avoid getting an infection. You may find your eyes get sticky from the prescribed drops you will be using after surgery, so you might want to clean your eyes. It is a good idea to buy what you need to do this before you have the surgery. You will need a clean bowl, cooled boiled water and some gauze. Boil the water and pour it into the clean bowl and let it cool. Once cooled you can soak the gauze in the water, ring it out and very gently wipe over the eyes and eyelashes, being very careful not to push on the eyes or drag the skin.

3) Eating

Most patients will be awake during cataract surgery and will have local anaesthetic to numb the eye, therefore it is advised to eat a good meal and keep well hydrated before you come to the clinic/hospital for surgery. If you are going to be put to sleep using general anaesthetic or be sedated, then you will not be able to eat or drink before surgery, this can vary from 6-12 hours beforehand. Your eye clinic should advise you on eating prior to surgery, but also ask them to confirm this if you are unsure or have not been advised.

4) Transport Home

After surgery, you will not be able to drive yourself home so you must arrange for someone to collect you, whether this be a family member or friend or a taxi. Ideally it wouldn’t be recommended you take public transport as you may struggle getting around on this. Also, you may not be able to drive for several days after the surgeries, so it is always best to have someone that can drive you around or it’s a good excuse to put your feet up and rest.

5) Sunglasses

So, it may not be a sunny day when you have surgery and it may even be night time when you leave the clinic/hospital, but we would recommend you bring a pair of sunglasses. Even though it is likely that your eye that has been treated on will be covered, either by gauze or a plastic shield, you may find lights brighter than normal, such as the sun, car lights and street lights. Also, the sunglasses act as another shield to protect your eyes from dust, wind or any other debris that could get in your eyes which could potentially cause an infection.

6) Time Off Work

If you work, you will need to prepare taking some time off after the surgeries. This can depend on the type of job you do but can vary from 2 days to 1 week after each eye has been treated. When you return to work, you may need to take extra caution depending on your environment, for example if you work in a dusty atmosphere you will need to wear protective goggles for several weeks to protect your eyes. Speak to your ophthalmologist about the type of work you do and they will give the best advice on returning to work.
All of the above is only a guide and your eye doctor may give different advice to you as every patient and surgery is different and recommendations will be tailored to suit your surgery, lifestyle, and needs. Remember if you have any questions about preparing for surgery, contact your eye clinic/hospital before the day of the surgery.

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Author: Samer Hamada is a distinguished consultant ophthalmologist and cornea surgeon performing eye surgeries at his practice, Eye Clinic London. With nearly two decades' experience, Mr. Hamada is recognised as a leading expert in the field of cataract, refractive lens exchange (RLE) and corneal surgeries. Please visit eyecliniclondon.com/ Please call 0800 197 8808 for friendly advice and information.

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