cataract surgery recovery melbourne

Cataract Surgery Recovery – What To Expect On The Treatment

The thought of cataract surgery can be a daunting one as many people have a fear of operations or procedures to the eyes. Even if you’re not one to be squeamish, you may be wondering about the process of cataract surgery recovery, such as the expected recovery time and what post-operative instructions you may be required to follow.


Cataracts and Cataract Surgery in a Nutshell

Cataract surgery is a very common procedure in the Western world, particularly because cataracts are so common themselves as a natural part of ageing. A cataract is any sort of opacity of the lens inside the eye; typically, this lens is clear and transparent to allow the transmission of light to make vision possible. Any haze or clouding of this lens hinders the passage of light, resulting in hazy or cloudy vision. In the early stages, as a cataract grows, it may simply cause a change to your spectacle prescription, which can easily be addressed by simply updating your glasses. However, eventually, the cataract progresses to a stage where your vision can no longer be improved to your satisfaction with an update in prescription – it’s at this point your eye care professional may recommend you consider cataract surgery

Cataract surgery in Australia is associated with very high success rates, often quoted to be around 98%, and uneventful cataract surgery recovery. During the operation, you will have the eye area numbed with a local anaesthetic. A small incision is created in the front surface of the eye, called the cornea, to allow the surgeon to access the cataract behind the coloured iris.

tips cataract surgery recovery melbourneThe cataract is then broken into smaller fragments and then removed from the eye using a suction device. The membrane in which the cataract used to sit is retained in order to hold the artificial lens implant that will replace the cataract, known as an intraocular lens. The corneal incision is usually allowed to self-seal without the need for stitches. 

Even before going into the operating theatre, your eye specialist is likely to discuss with you about what to expect from the surgery, including the steps to optimise your cataract surgery recovery. However, it’s important to understand that everyone’s bodies and healing responses are different and your total recovery time may be slightly shorter or longer, dependent even on factors such as your vocation and favourite hobbies. 


Cataract Surgery Recovery Tips

Cataract surgery is a day procedure and most people expect to return home the same day though will be advised against driving immediately after the operation and potentially for the following several days until their postoperative vision can be assessed. It’s quite normal for vision to feel slightly blurry immediately after surgery and for your eye to be a bit red and sore for the next few days. Your vision will continue to improve and stabilise over the following 4-6 weeks of recovery time but within a few days of the operation, many people often notice their vision is already much better than when they had the cataract. 

After having cataract surgery, it’s important to follow all post-op instructions from your ophthalmologist in order to maximise your likelihood of a smooth cataract surgery recovery period. Different ophthalmologists may have slightly different post-op instructions, but most will include similar guidelines such as: 

Protect the eye: You will be given a protective plastic shield to tape over the operated eye. Your eye specialist may recommend you keep this on for a couple of days, or may say that it’s okay to remove after a few hours but should be worn to sleep to prevent you from accidentally rubbing the eye. Protecting the eye as it heals also involves avoiding any foreign particles that may contaminate the wound. This includes dust, dirt, makeup, and even soap, shampoos, and unsterile water such as swimming pools and spas.

Avoid strenuous activity: This is typically recommended after any surgical procedure and eye surgery is no different. For a few weeks post-op your ophthalmologist will advise you to stay away from vigorous exercise or heavy lifting. It is also recommended to try and avoid any other activity that may increase the pressure around the eye immediately after surgery, such as bending over or vomiting.

Use your prescribed eye drops: Your ophthalmologist will provide you with a prescription for a few topical medications. These will include an anti-inflammatory eye drop, typically a steroid, and an antibiotic eye drop to prevent any infections. It’s important to follow the dosing regime as prescribed even if you think your eye is feeling okay as not doing so could prolong your recovery time unnecessarily in the event of unexpected inflammation or infection. 

Seek medical attention if your eye doesn’t seem right: A deterioration in the clarity of your vision or progressively increasing pain, redness, or discharge after surgery is not normal and should be brought to the attention of your eye surgeon immediately. Most ophthalmologists will have already organised a review exam roughly a day after your operation, a week later, and a month after that, but if at any time in between you think something is not right with your eyes you should have it promptly attended to. Remember, your care with your eye specialist doesn’t stop once you leave the operating theatre. 



Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

how does laser eye surgery work Armadale

How Does Laser Eye Surgery Work?

The concept of surgically correcting vision was first recorded in the 1800s with the use of a spring-mounted mallet to flatten the cornea. Fortunately, laser eye surgery methods have progressed significantly since then, propelled further with the invention of tools such as the femtosecond and excimer lasers.

Refractive error, also known as ametropia, refers to a mismatch of the power of the eye’s focusing system (the cornea and the lens) to the length of the eyeball, also known as the axial length. As light passes through the cornea and lens of the eye, ideally it is focused, or refracted, to a sharp point on the sensory retina at the back of the eyeball – this is what we perceive as clear vision. In eyes where light comes to a focus either before the retina (as is the case of short-sightedness or myopia), behind the retina (as in long-sightedness or hyperopia), or at two separate points around the retina (as in astigmatism), vision is blurry and the patient is considered to have a refractive error.

The use of glasses and contact lenses helps to refocus the light entering the eye so that it will come to a clear point on the retina. However, these optical aids come with some disadvantages, such as life-long costs, cosmetic issues, and even some eye health risks. For patients seeking freedom from the inconvenience of glasses and contacts, laser eye surgery could be a very tempting option. So, how does laser eye surgery work?


How Does Laser Eye Surgery Work?

how does laser eye surgery work in Armadale

Laser eye surgery aims to adjust the focusing power of the eye through surgical means, essentially by reshaping the cornea. In addition to the refractive power of the lens inside the eye, the shape of the cornea is responsible for a proportion of the refraction of incoming light.

Details of how laser eye surgery works will be dependent on the specific technique used. We have a growing armamentarium of laser eye surgery methods which continue to expand the criteria of suitability, allowing more and more patients access to laser vision correction where perhaps just a decade ago they may have been deemed ineligible.


Photorefractive Keratectomy

Despite being one of the earlier methods, PRK continues to be a valuable technique still used today. As the excimer laser is applied to the inner corneal layers known as the stroma for the reshaping process, the superficial layer of corneal cells called the epithelium must first be removed. The removal of epithelium is performed either with an alcohol solution or manually with a hand-held instrument, which then exposes the corneal stroma. Guided by computer, the excimer laser then removes select areas of the cornea to adjust its shape, a process called photoablation. After the operation, the cornea naturally regenerates its epithelial layers as part of the healing process.


Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis 

Probably one of the most well-known laser eye surgery techniques, LASIK is similar to PRK in that it requires the corneal epithelium to be moved away in order for the excimer laser to access the underlying stromal layers for reshaping. However, unlike PRK, the LASIK method creates a flap of superficial corneal tissue which remains attached to the eye by a hinge. The flap may be formed using a manual bladed instrument or with another type of laser tool known as a femtosecond laser. Once the photoablation reshaping process is complete, the corneal flap is replaced over the eye and allowed to self-seal. A benefit of LASIK surgery is the shorter recovery time compared to PRK; however, one disadvantage is that LASIK is not suitable for thinner corneas as the creation of the flap reduces the amount of corneal tissue available for reshaping.


Small Incision Lenticule Extraction

SMILE® laser eye surgery is a much more recent method and is not yet widely offered across all ophthalmology practices in Australia. Hailed as a revolutionary, minimally invasive refractive surgery technique, SMILE® allows the biomechanical stability of the cornea to remain largely intact, resulting in faster healing times and a lower risk of complications. Unlike both PRK and LASIK, the epithelium is more or less undisturbed, and the corneal stroma is instead accessed via a small keyhole incision. A femtosecond laser is used to create a disc-shaped sliver of tissue within the stroma known as a lenticule, the dimensions of which are pre-calculated to correct for that eye’s particular refractive error. This lenticule is then removed through the keyhole incision, adjusting the cornea’s overall shape and curvature and thereby redirecting light to focus clearly onto the retina.

how does laser eye surgery work in Armadale AustraliaSo, there you have it – how laser eye surgery works. There are also other forms of refractive surgery that don’t depend on the use of laser technology; some of these techniques may be more suitable for certain patients, particularly those who have factors that make any sort of corneal disruption undesirable or those who have insufficient corneal thickness for reshaping.

Surgical procedures such as intraocular contact lenses (ICL) and refractive lens exchange (RLE) still achieve clear vision with independence from optical aids but without any significant interference to the cornea.

Patients who have been excluded from laser refractive procedures based on inadequate corneal thickness may find themselves eligible for refractive surgery through one of these other techniques.

The idea of surgery on such a delicate, sensitive organ as the eye can be daunting, but refractive surgery in Australia is associated with very high rates of success.

To discuss your eligibility for surgical vision correction, call us on (03) 9070 5753 and make an appointment with our rooms today.


Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.