Cataract surgery appointment

Your step-by-step guide of your surgery appointment

We're here to hold your hand every step of the way

Here’s some detailed information about what to expect during your cataract surgery appointment – all of the SpaMedica team are here to support you, make you feel at ease and make your surgery day as stress-free as possible. 

1. Welcome – You’ll receive a big smile and warm welcome from one of our friendly reception team. They’ll check you in and take you to the patient waiting area. You’ll be offered complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits for you and your family/friend/carer. 

2. Arranging pick up – Our reception team will ask for contact details of the person who will be picking you up after your surgery and we’ll give them a ring when you’re ready to go home. Your family/friend/carer is also welcome to wait in the reception area once you are called through to the surgical ward – this is normally about a 3 hour wait. 

3. Nurse pre-surgery check – You’ll be called through to the surgical ward where you’ll be greeted by one of our skilled and friendly nurses, who will spend about 15 minutes with you. They’ll check everything is OK for your surgery to go ahead. An arrow will be drawn above the eye you are having surgery on – don’t worry, this is standard procedure for all surgical operations. The nurse will make sure you understand what will happen next and you can ask any questions you may have to make sure you are happy with everything. A tiny pellet is then placed in your eye – this is used to dilate your pupil. If required, the nurse will provide sedative medication before putting the pellet in your eye (most patients don’t need this). 

4. Surgical ward – the nurse will show you through to the surgical ward. It’s very important for your pupil to be fully dilated for surgery and so there will be up to 45 minutes waiting time on the surgical ward to allow the pupil to fully dilate. 

5. Pre-surgery – One of the surgery team will call you through to the surgery preparation room to get you ready for surgery. The nurse will remove the small pellet from your eye and administer anaesthetic drops to numb your eye. We give you a couple pieces of protective clothing to pop on before surgery – a cap and shoe covers. If you wear a hearing aid, we ask that this is removed at this point and the nursing team will look after it and give it back to you straight after your surgery. 

6. Consultant pre-surgery check – Your consultant ophthalmologist will check through your details with you, discuss your surgery and what will happen next. Again, you can ask the consultant any questions you may have and they’ll make sure you’re OK with everything before taking you through to surgery.

7. Your cataract surgery 

  • The nursing team will take you through to the operating theatre and help get you comfortable on the operating bed. 
  • The area around your eye will be cleaned using an iodine-based solution; this can stain light clothing, so we advise you to wear dark clothing on your surgery day. 
  • A sterile sheet is placed across your head and chest. This does not lie directly on your face or head, but is held above your face and body using a bar fixed to the operating bed. The sterile sheet sticks to the skin around the eye to create a sterile zone around your eye area. 
  • The surgeon uses a special microscope with a very bright light, which magnifies your eye. You’ll be looking at this very bright light throughout the surgery and this is all that you’ll be able to see. 
  • Obviously, we’ll ask you to keep still during the surgery; and, if you need to move – to sneeze, for example – that’s fine, just let the surgeon know. Just think of it like the dentist where you have to keep your head still for a few minutes. And, as a matter of fact, many of our patients have said that they found cataract surgery a much better experience than going to their dentists! 
  • It’s important to keep the eye moist during surgery, so water is used to irrigate the eye and this sometimes runs down your face onto your ear or neck. This is why we ask that any hearing aids are removed before your surgery. 
  • The procedure lasts, on average, about 20 minutes, that’s all, and most of our patients are pleasantly surprised when our surgeon lets them know it’s finished! 
  • We have asked hundreds of patients to describe what they feel or experience during surgery and the feedback is that they just see a very bright light or bright colours and don’t feel anything. If you experience any strange or unpleasant sensation during surgery, please let your surgeon know and they’ll give you some more anaesthetic drops. 
  • The sheet is removed very carefully from around your eye at the end of the surgery – this feels similar to a sticky plaster being taken off, so there is a small amount of discomfort, but this only lasts for a second or two. 
  • A clear eye shield will be taped over your eye to help protect the eye and prevent infection. 
  • One of the nursing team will support you as you get off the operating table and take you through for your post-op check

8. Surgery all done – take a deep breath and smile! 

9. Post-cataract surgery check – you’ll spend 5 minutes with one of our nurses following surgery to check you’re OK and talk you through your post-surgery care at home. You’ll be given a booklet with lots of useful information, dos and don’ts, and advice about what to do when you’re back home. A very important part of post-surgery care is your eye drops – these help to prevent infection and reduce any swelling. The nurse will give you a bottle of eye drops to take with you. These are to be used four times a day over three weeks following surgery, but NOT on the day of surgery. 

10. Cataract surgery recovery time – you’ll need about 10 to 30 minutes following your surgery to rest back in the hospital reception. We recommend having a hot drink and a biscuit and these will be offered to you while you wait. 

11. Time to go home – we’ll call the contact you gave us to organise a lift home, if they’re not already waiting for you in the reception area. If you have organised a lift on our SpaMedica minibus, you’ll be booked in with the driver, who will come and get you when the bus is ready to go. 

Would you like a chaperone? It’s your choice. This can be a family member, friend or a trained member of staff. Please let us know upon arrival if you would like someone to accompany you for examination or consultation.