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Five cataract surgery myths

Worried about cataract surgery? Our Eye Unit team at Benenden Hospital is here to ease your concerns surrounding this common eye procedure.

Cataract Surgery can cause worries for patients. Our Eye Unit team at Benenden Hospital is here to alleviate concerns surrounding this common eye procedure. 10% of people aged 65 or over have cataract surgery (Laser Eye Surgery Hub), so you’re not alone. Read on as we ‘debunk’ five of the most common myths around Cataract Surgery.

1. Cataract surgery is painful

As with any surgical procedure, you may worry about how painful it will be during or after surgery. Before your cataract surgery, you’ll receive a topical anaesthetic (eye drops), to numb the eye to be operated on so you shouldn’t have pain. Our Eye Unit team consists of 12 experienced Ophthalmic Surgeons who specialise in cataract surgery as well as other eye treatments.

They report that most patients feel little or no pain during or after their cataract removal. You may feel some pressure or discomfort while your cataracts are being removed and a special lens (if you opt for this) is being inserted. Our patients are always asked to tell their consultant or Eye Unit nurse if it is uncomfortable. While recovering, your eye may feel gritty or slightly tender, but over-the-counter pain relief should improve this.

2. I can’t sit in the sun after cataract surgery

Whether you’ve recently had cataract surgery or not, it’s always important to take care of your eyes when outdoors. The best way to do this is by wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. After your cataract has been removed, you’ll experience an increased sensitivity to light due to dryness in the operated eye.

It’s also very common to have cloudy or blurry vision in the days following your cataract removal. This is often caused by normal swelling in the eye which occurs as a part of surgery.

If you notice your eyes are squinting or closing a lot when you go outside on a sunny day post cataract surgery, you could have inflammation in your eye or the iris of your eye.

3. My daily activities will be restricted after a cataract operation

Any restrictions will be explained to you by a member of our Eye Unit team before you return home. Below are some of the main do’s and don’ts after cataract surgery. Your daily activities will only be restricted for the first week post-surgery while your eye recovers.

Do’s:

  • Use eye drops that have been prescribed to you, and take over-the-counter painkillers if you experience discomfort
  • Do use your eyes, for example, reading a book

Don’ts:

  • Many patients ask – how long until you can drive after cataract surgery? Our advice is to refrain from driving for one week following surgery
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes for the first week
  • Avoid excessive bending down or bending over, heavy lifting and strenuous activity as this can increase blood pressure in the eyes
  • Don’t wear eye makeup
  • Don’t swim for four to six weeks after surgery to reduce the risk of infection

If you’re feeling tired after your procedure, you may need to take some time off work but this is not essential.

4. I have to wait a long time between cataract surgery on each eye

Another common question is – how long between cataract surgery on each eye?

Cataract surgery patient, Mick O’Leary, had cataracts removed from both of his eyes three months apart. “Two months on from my second cataract surgery, I was only required to wear glasses for my barbering and reading. As a Morris dancer who does lots of events in the evening, a year ago I wasn’t comfortable driving back in the dark but now I’m so much more confident. I’ve not only got my eyesight back, I’ve got my life back too – don’t put it off.”

It can take up to six weeks for your eye to heal and for your sight to fully return after cataract removal surgery, it’s for this reason that we usually recommend your second cataract surgery is booked between six to 12 weeks apart. This will reduce any restrictions to your daily activities as you’ll still be able to use your other eye.

At Benenden Hospital, we strive to ensure all our patients receive the recovery care they need. A follow-up consultation in our Eye Unit or via telephone will monitor the healing progress of your operated eye.

It’s important to remember that cataracts develop at different rates in both eyes but during a routine optician’s appointment, a cataract may be detected before you even notice any cloudy vision.

5. I can’t wear my old glasses after cataract surgery

Our positive cataract surgery results and ‘Special Lens Service’ mean that your vision can improve so much that you may not need to wear glasses anymore. It’s highly likely that your old prescription glasses won’t match your newly operated eye. Two of our Consultants deliver this ‘Special Lens Service’, which involves the implantation of multifocal and astigmatism-correcting intraocular lenses but this is not for everyone.

You can choose from a range of advanced lenses, which will correct your eyesight at the same time as removing your cataract. Your Consultant will help you decide which lens replacement surgery would best suit your lifestyle.

Delia Worth also had both her cataracts removed within two months of each other at our dedicated Eye Unit. She also had toric lenses – a type of special lens – inserted to correct astigmatisms which differed in severity in both eyes.

Delia says, “Since cataract surgery, I’ve been able to dispense totally with my lenses and glasses which I’ve worn since the age of 11. I can now drive at night, I can read and I can swim without worrying about getting water in my eyes. The world seems a brighter, clearer place as colours jump out at me. It’s just a miracle!”

Private cataract surgery in our award-winning Eye Unit

We’re proud to be the number one provider of private cataract surgery in England* and have 12 Consultant Ophthalmologists who specialise in the procedure.

Our expert Ophthalmic Consultants use computer assisted cataract surgery with Callisto Eye®. This modern microscope can achieve perfect alignment of the toric lenses. It allows for faster treatment due to less manual functions and reduces the risk of refractive errors and residual astigmatism.

Find out more about our private eye treatments available through self-pay and private medical insurance, by completing our online enquiry form, contacting us via LiveChat or by calling our Private Patient team on 01580 363158.

*Private Healthcare Information Network 2023

Published on 12 June 2024