Contributed and reviewed by: Dr Audrey Looi (Medical Director at Ava Eye Clinic)

Recap: What is Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery is recommended when vision is affected by degenerative changes within the aging eye lens. This is most commonly seen in those over the age of 60 years. However, some younger patients may develop cataract earlier in life and require the surgery earlier. Modern cataract surgery involves the removal of the eye lens through tiny incisions on the cornea. This is followed by implantation of a permanent intraocular lens that will take the place of the original eye lens. With precise calculations done pre-operatively and good choice of lens implant, one can look forward to clearer vision after surgery, often times with no further need or minimal need for glasses.



Will I be awake during cataract surgery?

Intravenous sedation is provided during the surgery. The aim of sedation is to relieve the anxiety that the patient may be feeling. It is important that the patient is not sedated too deeply as that can lead to depressed respiration or increased movement which is not desirable. Although some may feel worried about whether they can tolerate the procedure whilst awake, it is good to know that the vast majority of patients have no problems and go through the surgery smoothly. General anaesthesia is reserved for patients who have no control over their movements eg patients with dementia.


Will I feel pain during cataract surgery?

Before the surgery, other than the sedation, patients will also receive either topical (eyedrop only) anaesthesia or local (injection) anaesthesia. Dr Looi provides topical anaesthesia for most patients and reserves injection anaesthesia for selected patients only. This minimises the risks that can be associated with injections around the eyes. The anaesthetic agents take away any pain and allow the procedure to be performed under sedation.

Patients may feel some “pressure” sensation and “watery eye” sensation during the surgery. Nevertheless, there is no pain and patients remain comfortable throughout the procedure.


What should I focus on during surgery?

Patients will be lying down and instruction will be given to look upwards at a microscope light positioned straight above the eye. Prior to the surgery, Dr Looi will brief you on where she might ask you to look at other than the light target.

During the surgery, it is important to keep still and to avoid squeezing the eyes, even when one feels some watery sensation in the eye. The aim is to keep still and look straight at the microscope light at all times. If needed, Dr Looi will ask that you look at the spot that she had briefed you on earlier. This is usually only for a short time and you will be directed to look at the microscope light again for the rest of the surgery. With good patient co-operation, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly the surgery is performed.


How long does the surgery take?

Most cataract surgeries take about 15-30 minutes. However, as it takes time to register at the hospital and for the nursing team to prepare the patient for the surgery, one must expect to spend about half a day at the day of surgery in total in most cases.

Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed at Ava Eye Clinic. With the above points in mind and adequate preparation, you will find the surgery a straightforward one with pleasing results.

Read more: What To Expect After Cataract Surgery?