Coming into Hospital for Cataract Surgery

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-014/2023
  • Departments: Ophthalmology Department
  • Last Updated: 1 May 2023


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about what to expect when you come into hospital for your cataract surgery.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

Can there be any complications or risk

The risks of cataract surgery have been discussed with you and explained in the leaflet ‘Risks and Benefits of Cataract Surgery’. We advise that you read this leaflet again.

How do I prepare for the operation?

Please read the information leaflet. Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support. There may be information they need to know, especially if they are taking care of you following this examination.

Following the pre assessment visit, you will be given a date and time to come to the Eye Hospital for your operation.

Getting to the Eye Hospital for your surgery

Patients must make their own arrangements for travelling to and from the Eye Hospital for surgery. Please note that Ambulance transport is not arranged by the hospital and is only available for patients who qualify in the following groups:

  • Patients who are medically unfit to travel by any other means.
  • Patients must have no alternative means of travelling to or from hospital.

Day of surgery

  • You can expect to be in hospital for between 3 and 6 hours. We ask patients to arrive at specific times to allow plenty of time for all the pre-operative checks and examination to be made before your surgeon starts the operating list.
  • You will not be asked to undress prior to your surgery. Please wear clean loose fitting clothing such as a blouse or shirt that can be opened down the front.
  • Cataract surgery uses quite a lot of salty fluid to wash out the cataract, sometimes this fluid drips down around your neck; consequently your clothing may get damp. It is advisable to bring a spare shirt or blouse with you in case you need to change into a dry top.
  • If you wear a hearing aid please bring it with you.
  • Take your usual medications unless you have been advised to stop them prior to surgery.
  • Bring any medications that you may need to take whilst you are in hospital this includes inhalers and sprays.
  • Please do not wear any make up, nail varnish or jewellery, other than a wedding ring, as you will need to remove this before your operation.
  • It is advisable not to bring valuables or money to the hospital. The Trust will not accept responsibility for loss or theft.
  • Please eat and drink normally before coming into hospital unless you have been advised not to do so.

What will happen?

On arrival at the Eye Hospital

  • Please book in with the receptionist on arrival at the Eye Hospital. You will be directed to the Day Case Unit or Eye Ward (Ward 35).
  • On arrival to the ward or Day Case Unit, a nurse will meet you and confirm the information that you gave at your pre-assessment visit and check there are no new changes to your general health.
  • Eye drops to dilate the pupil of the eye you are having operated on are instilled.
  • You will be seen by a member of the medical team for a quick eye check. You will have a mark on your forehead to show the eye you are having the operation on. You will be asked to confirm your consent for the operation.
  • Patients are offered hot drinks free of charge.
  • Visitors are asked to use the dining facilities in the Eye Hospital atrium, the main hospital or Women and Children’s Hospital.
  • During your stay, several checks are made. These are to ensure the correct patient receives the correct procedure on the correct eye. These may seem tedious but are in the interest of your safety.
  • The Day Case Unit and operating theatres are very busy, so please be patient as the staff will be very busy preparing patients for their operation.

Going into the Operating Theatre

  • You will be taken to the operating theatre by a member of the theatre team.
  • You will meet the anaesthetist who will administer the anaesthetic.
  • A needle may be placed into a vein in your hand.
  • Anaesthetic eye drops are given to numb the eye before the operation takes place. Some patients will also have an injection of local anaesthetic into the tissues around the eye to reduce the amount of eye movement.
  • Once the eye is numb, you will be taken into the operating room.
  • The operation is carried out with you lying as flat as possible; we will make you as comfortable as we are able.
  • Various drapes will be placed over your face and shoulders to keep the operation area clean. You can still breathe normally.
  • You will need to keep still and not talk during the surgery.
  • The theatre staff will advise you on how to communicate if you become anxious during the operation.
  • The surgeon uses very fine instruments and a microscope to carry out the operation.
  • The theatre can be a little noisy with the equipment used to remove the cataract and also from the heart monitoring machines. You will hear talking between the surgeon and members of the theatre team.
  • We use a lot of salty water during the operation. This is collected into a collection bag beside your ear and you may be aware of this trickling but it is nothing to worry about.
  • The amount that the patient sees during the operation varies from nothing at all to brightly coloured lights and vague shapes moving.
  • The operation usually takes 15–20 minutes but may be up to 45 minutes. This does not include anaesthetic and recovery time.

What happens afterwards?

After the operation, you will see a nurse to ensure that you are fit to be discharged home. You will be told about your post-operative care arrangements, how to look after your eye and when to use the eye drops. We are unable to routinely offer a district nursing service for post-operative eye drops therefore please ensure you have adequate support arranged if you feel it necessary. Detailed information will be given to you in a further leaflet explaining the recovery period.

The eye heals quickly after the operation but you should allow a few days to recover from the operation.

Points to remember

  • You do not need to keep the eye covered once the anaesthetic has worn off.
  • You should avoid heavy lifting and straining for the first week.
  • You should avoid getting shampoo and soap into your eye.
  • You must not drive until you reach the minimum legal standard of vision. Your optician will be able to advise you on this.
  • Remember there will be a period of adjustment of the vision especially when judging distances.
  • A post-operative clinic appointment will only be arranged if your surgeon/consultant feels that you require to be seen in the Eye Clinic following your surgery. If appropriate you will be given details of the appointment otherwise a nurse from the cataract team will telephone you to check your progress one week after your operation, at this time if required you will be offered a date for your second eye operation.
  • Please note that you must visit your optician before you can have cataract surgery on the other eye

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Ophthalmology Department (01482) 608788

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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