On the day.
The operation usually takes place in the afternoon and after a final check in the clinic, you will be admitted to the ward. A small ‘pill’ will be inserted under your lower eyelid, sometimes eye drops will be used as well to clean your eye and dilate your pupil. When it is your turn, you will be taken along to the operating theatre.
In the anaesthetic room you will see the anaesthetist, who you will have met earlier in the day. If you’re having a local anaesthetic, you will have numbing eye drops put in, often combined with local anaesthetic flushed around your eye under the conjunctiva – no needle is used. If you still feel anxious, you can be given a sedative to make you feel more relaxed.
If you’re having a general anaesthetic you will be connected to the monitors and then given an injection in the back of your hand. You will then be asleep and not be aware of anything else until you wake up soon after the operation has finished.
After about ten minutes you will be transferred to the operating theatre. Your eye and lids will be cleaned and the top half of your body will be covered with a sterile sheet under which fresh air will be blown towards your face. A hole in the sheet will lie over your eye which will be left uncovered. The sheet is fixed around your eyelids with sticky tape. Most people are aware of the bright light of the microscope but this fades quickly. The operation itself takes about 10 to 20 minutes during which you may be aware of water running over your eye and an intermittent buzzing noise. Your head will be on a special supporting pillow so you don’t need to worry about keeping your head still or your eye open.
Once cleaned, your eyelids are kept open with a small wire spring to prevent blinking. You won’t feel this at all. A small cut is then made into your eye where the white joins the iris. This incision is very small - less than half the width of your small fingernail. A hole is made in the lining of the cataract and the hazy middle part is sucked out by the ultrasound probe. The lens implant is then put into this empty space. This will help you to see better. The cut will seal itself as soon as the instruments are removed, and stitches are only rarely needed.