Your Cataract Operation – what to expect.

Before the operation:

Preop visit:

  • check vision, intraocular pressure, cataract
  • discuss intraocular lens, postop plan for vision/glasses
  • discuss any new medical health issues, medications
  • discuss postop strategies, risks, answer questions

Need to do:

  • admission forms – sign, deliver
  • chemist – make up medications, bring to hospital
  • driving – NB no driving after the operation, until you adjust

Day of op:

  • NB must be well
  • Start antibiotic drops to both eyes
  • No makeup
  • Bring medications with you to the hospital

At hospital:

  • Staff will put lots of drops into the op eye to increase (dilate) the pupil size
  • Dr Dunlop will check your pupil, answer any questions

Preop anaesthetic room:

  • Anaesthetic – discussion/check
  • A relaxing anaesthetic will be started, before anaesthetic is put around the op eye

In theatre:

  • Dr Dunlop will check your pupil is dilated and the anaesthetic is working well
  • Microscope will be focussed with your eye/head positioned
  • Eyelids, lashes and eye will be cleaned

During operation:

  • Remember to keep still,
  • If you need a little more relaxation anaesthetic let us know
  • you may say something if you have a problem, but don’t move during the operation
  • you will hear talking and the phaco-emulsification machine working

End of operation:

  • eye pad on op eye
  • refreshments in recovery
  • Dr Dunlop will give you some postop information, medication sheet


  • leave eye pad on
  • depth perception/3D vision will be different when one eye is covered with an eye pad –take care on steps/stairs and pouring hot drinks
  • anaesthetic will still be working overnight and into the next day

Next day - day 1 postop visit:

  • leave eye pad on
  • bring ointment and medication sheet with you
  • Dr Dunlop will take off the eye pad, check your eye on the slit-lamp and intraocular pressure

After visit day 1:

  • Eye pad on op eye for the first day helps wound healing
  • Start drops/ointment after lunch (lift up eye pad)
  • Fresh eye pad at night
  • Glasses lens may need to be removed for new op eye (may be too strong)

Day 2:

  • Continue medications as per sheet
  • No eye pad
  • Use eye pad at night until you know you won’t rub it in your sleep

Over 3-4 weeks:

  • Use medications as per sheet
  • Avoid glare eg sunglasses, hat
  • Never rub the eye (rub the bone below)
  • Stitch removal is about 10 days postop on the slit-lamp after anaesthetic drops
  • Vision will change as the eye heals, especially after stitch removal
  • Glasses – Dr Dunlop will prescribe a new glasses lens when measurements are stable (about 3-4 weeks)
  • Glaucoma medication – sometimes the intraocular pressure is improved after a cataract operation.
  • Dr Dunlop will let you know which type, and when, to use glaucoma medication to the new postop eye. ( NB Xalatan drops are not used to the operated eye for a few months after cataract surgery). However use all your usual glaucoma drops to the other (unoperated) eye.