Cataract pre-op appointment

All you need to know for your first visit to SpaMedica

How long will my pre-operative assessment appointment take?

Your pre-operative assessment is the first appointment you’ll attend at SpaMedica. We’ll carry out some non-invasive eye tests and a thorough eye check to confirm that cataract surgery is the right treatment for you. You should expect your appointment to last for about 2 hours, which includes 40 minutes to allow your pupils to dilate – see below for more information.  

Can I drive after my pre-assessment?

Dilating the eyes causes blurred vision and sensitivity to light, meaning that you won’t be able to drive to or from your appointment, so it’s important to arrange a lift with someone you know. If you’re struggling to find anyone who’s available to take you, SpaMedica provides free transport for some patients, based on your location and other criteria. If you’re struggling to find transport, please speak to a member of our referrals team to see if you qualify for free transport. 

SpaMedica Health Care Technician helping a SpaMedica patient into her seat to carry out an eye exam

What do I need to bring with me to my appointment?

Please feel free to ask the nurse and/or optometrist at your pre-operative appointment any questions you have about your surgery.

• Your health questionnaire form (which will be sent to you with your initial appointment letter)
• Your current glasses (if you wear them)
• A list of your current medications
• The contact number of the relative/friend who will be picking you up (if they’re not waiting in our reception area for you)
• If you’re diabetic, you’ll need to bring your record book with you.
• If you’re taking warfarin (blood-thinning medication), you’ll need to bring your INR record book (yellow book) with you.
• If you have glaucoma, please bring your consultant details with you.

Soft contact lenses should be removed from both eyes at least 48 hours before your appointment and hard lenses should not be worn for two weeks before your appointment.

What happens at my pre-operative assessment appointment?

  • Welcome – You will be warmly welcomed and signed in by one of our friendly reception team and directed to the assessment clinic, where you’ll be seated in reception and offered complimentary tea, coffee, and biscuits. 
  • Vision test – The first test we conduct is to check your vision. This is done using a chart (the same kind used by your optician), where we ask you to read letters from the top line downwards on the chart. 
  • Eye pressure – It’s important to test the pressure in each eye to check eye health and test for glaucoma. Anaesthetic drops will be placed in each eye before the eye pressure test, which is conducted using a handheld meter that gently touches the surface of the eye and provides a digital readout of the pressure in the eye. 
  • Eye diagnostics – There are two diagnostic tests conducted at all pre-operative assessments – the first takes a magnified colour photo of your eye and the second is called a biometry test, which measures the shape and size of the eye. The biometry test reading allows us to calculate the power of the intraocular lens (IOL) required for your cataract surgery. Click here for more information about IOLs. 
  • Pupils dilated – Drops are placed in each eye to dilate the pupils (this makes your pupils larger, so we can examine the eye). It usually takes about 40 minutes for your pupils to dilate and then we can examine your eyes. Dilating your pupils affects your vision and sensitivity to light for up to six hours, which is why you won’t be able to drive yourself home after the appointment. 
  • Additional tests (if required) – About 10% of patients require some additional eye tests at their pre-operative assessment – for example, those with pre-existing eye conditions or if you’ve had previous eye surgery or laser treatment. These include imaging tests. One takes a cross-section image of your retina and the other measures and checks the shape of your cornea. Two other tests that may be required are the A-scan and B-scan. These provide data on the length of your eye and provide a two-dimensional cross-section of your eye. 
  • General healthcare – One of our friendly SpaMedica nurses will conduct a routine blood pressure test and temperature check. They will discuss your current health and what regular medication you are taking (both prescription and non-prescription). They’ll also talk through your cataract surgery and what will happen on the day of your operation, explaining everything thoroughly and answering any questions you may have. 
  • Optometrist check – All your test results are checked and analysed by a SpaMedica optometrist (eye healthcare specialist). They check to make sure that cataract surgery is suitable for you and will discuss the benefits and risks of surgery with you. If both your eyes require surgery, the optometrist will talk about which eye we would recommend is operated on first. This is usually the eye with the worst vision, but the optometrist will discuss this fully with you to find out the best option for you. 
  • Consent – We take time to discuss the individual details, benefits and risks of cataract surgery with each of our patients. We’ll check that you understand everything and ask you to sign a consent form, which lets us know you give your permission for your surgery to go ahead. Please let us know if you have a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or require support for giving consent.
  • Booking your surgery – The final stage of your appointment is to book a date for your surgery. Our receptionist will give you available dates and you can choose a time and date to suit you – this is usually about two weeks after your preoperative appointment.

We hope this tells you everything you need to know about your pre-operative assessment, so you know exactly what to expect on the day. 

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.

Did you find what you were looking for?

Thank you for feedback

A-Z Resources

Our Resources section features an A-Z glossary of frequently asked questions about cataracts, some advice about how your loved ones can support you during your treatment, and some top tips on looking after your eyes.

A-Z Resources
Close up of an eye