Cataract Surgery at Sydney Eye Hospital

Part of the About Your Eyes series – this film contains information about your eye condition and what happens if you need surgery.

Produced by Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation to help you and your family to better understand the experience.

Narrated by Noni Hazlehurst

What is the cataract?
Will I be awake during surgery?
When can I go home?
When will I see better?
Is there a risk to my sight?

These questions and more are answered in a short film about eye surgery at the Sydney Eye Hospital. Featuring animation explaining how the eye works and actors modelling patients as they step through the process of having surgery.


Cataract surgery is the most common eye surgery in the world but what is a cataract?

When light enters the eye, it is focused by the lens onto the retina at the back of the eye.

Like a camera lens the eyes lens is crystal clear.

Cataract is the name given to the gradual clouding of the lens.

Usually a cataract develops slowly over years and years as we age making our vision hazy.

Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens or implant that will restore clearer vision.

Before having cataract surgery, you will attend a clinic at the hospital.

Here hospital staff will measure your eye to select the power of the implant to be placed in your eye.

Even if you have cataracts in both eyes your eye doctor will operate only on one eye a time to reduce risk of complications.

Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery as it specifically relates to you.

So, what happens on the day of your surgery?

Cataract surgery is normally done as day surgery so it’s important to have someone that can take you home afterwards.

A great deal of care is taken to make sure that the information about you is accurate and up-to-date.

You may be asked more than once about your medical history and what medications you’re currently taking.

Eye drops are used to dilate your pupil.

This give the doctor a clearer view of the Cataract inside your eye.

Your eye will be marked to alert medical staff when preparing for your surgery.

You will need an anaesthetic.

Most eye surgery is done under local anaesthetic, that is an injection or drops are used to numb the area around the eye.

But first a sedative is given to help you relax.

You may feel drowsy, but you will remain conscious, however you should not see or feel anything during the operation and may not remember it either.

The surgeon uses a microscope to see in detail.

This allows the surgeon to replace the lens with a minimum of disturbance to the eye.

The surgery can normally be done in 30 minutes.

Afterwards you’ll be taken to a recovery area where you can recover from the sedative.

Day surgery means you can go home on the same day, but you need someone to go with you and you must keep your eye protected overnight with an eye patch or shield.

A day or so later you return to the hospital for a clinic that allows the doctor and their team to examine your eye.

You should notice an improvement in your vision almost immediately and from day to day as your eye recovers.

You will be given eye drops to prevent infection and an information sheet of things to be aware of.

In some circumstances further surgery may be necessary.

The Sydney Eye Hospital performs thousands of sight saving surgeries each year.

The hospital is supported through the fundraising initiatives of the Sydney Eye Hospital Foundation in the interest of providing quality eye care for all.

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