Mr Venki Sundaram
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
MD FRCOphth MRCOphth BMBCh BSc Harpenden / Cobham Clinic: 01582 714451 Bushey: 0208 901 5561

What questions should I ask my cataract surgeon?

patient noting questions with surgeon

Undergoing any form of surgery can be a nerve-racking experience, but it doesn’t need to be. It is important to know the ins and outs of the procedure you are about to undergo, ensuring any questions you may have can be answered and you feel confident going in for your treatment.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a selection of questions to think about when opting for cataract surgery, helping you to be knowledgeable in the process, aware of the key elements and feel at ease with the expected outcomes and results.

Do I need cataract surgery? 

Odds are that a healthcare professional such as an optician has already told you that you will require cataract surgery. However, it is good to find out their rationale for this advice, so that you have a thorough understanding of the reasoning behind your need for surgery. You should discuss further with your Consultant at your initial appointment, so that you are clear on the likely benefits and possible risks associated with undergoing cataract surgery.

If you have been informed that you need cataract surgery and feel any concern, there are a number of tactics that you can adopt to help overcome the fear of cataract surgery.

How much experience do you have?

This is a very important question and one that you should definitely ask. A cataract operation requires delicate microsurgery, so you want a surgeon who has undergone rigorous training at reputable institutions and is performing a high number (e.g. over 500) of cataract operations a year, with excellent outcomes. Mr Sundaram performs this number of operations to the highest standard and is also involved in training the next generation of eye surgeons.

Will I still need glasses after surgery/what different lens choices are there?

Depending upon your preference of being happy to wear glasses after surgery or preferring to be without them, there are various intraocular lens choices available. It is important to discuss with your surgeon what your visual requirements and expectations are prior to your operation. The three main options of lens choice are:

Monofocal lenses – these aim to correct distance vision. Glasses will therefore be required for reading following surgery. Depending on your prior prescription though, you may also need to wear glasses to achieve your very best distance vision.

Toric lenses – these aim to correct distance vision and are also able to correct astigmatism, so the likelihood of needing to wear any glasses for distance is generally less than with monofocal lenses. Reading glasses will still be required following surgery.

Multifocal lenses – these lenses aim to correct distance, intermediate (e.g. looking at a computer screen) and reading vision. It cannot be guaranteed that you will never need to wear glasses again. There are also other considerations to be aware of with multifocal lenses such as it can take longer to adapt to your new vision and also patients are typically aware of more glare with bright lights.

How should I prepare for my cataract procedure?

As most cataract operations are performed under local anaesthesia, no special precautions are required. However, if you elect to have the operation performed under sedation or general anaesthesia then you should not eat or drink for 8 hours prior to surgery. You also may need to temporarily stop taking blood thinning medication prior to surgery so you should alert your consultant to any medication you are on. Our senior’s guide to cataract surgery has some excellent information to help put your mind at ease about the build-up to your surgery.

What happens during my cataract surgery?

Modern cataract surgery involves making a small (2mm) incision in the front of your eye, which allows a ultrasound small probe will then be inserted into your eye. This releases ultrasonic waves (in a process called phacoemulsification) which breaks up the clouded lens, ready to be gently removed by your surgeon. This process typically takes less than 20 minutes.

What is the process after surgery? 

After your treatment, you can usually go home within an hour. You will be given antibiotic and steroid eye drops to use for 4 weeks following your operation and instructed how to use them. These help with the healing process and vision normally starts to improve within a few days. It will take approximately 4 weeks for the eye to fully settle down. You will be advised to avoid strenuous activities for 2 weeks, but you can return to your normal, light day to day activities as soon as you feel comfortable. A discharge leaflet will be provided to remind you of the do’s and don’ts following surgery. A plastic eye shield is placed over your eye after your operation which you should wear at night for 1 week.  You should ask a family or a friend to take you home as you won’t be able to drive. 

Can I take pain relief?

Most patients don’t require any pain relief after surgery, but you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen is you do experience any discomfort. Using your post-operative eye drops regularly as advised will allow your eye to settle down and recover as soon as possible.

How much does cataract surgery cost and is it covered by insurance?

Cataract surgery is usually covered by insurance companies, however you should check with your individual provider.

For self-pay patients, the cost of a cataract operation is £2500 pounds which includes follow-up appointments.

Patients (either insured or self-pay) will typically pay extra (approximately £500 to £800 pounds) if they choose a toric or multifocal lens.

Cataract surgery is an extremely safe and effective procedure. Should you have any further questions or if you would like to book an initial consultation, don’t hesitate to contact a member of the team today.