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I want to share with you my experience of having Cataract removal and lens replacement surgery. from when I stepped into Optical Express to the moment I walked out and beyond. If you are thinking about lens replacement surgery then read on.
I have to be honest and say that I did not sleep at all the night before the surgery on my eyes. That was mainly because my mind was overactive. When I did try to sleep I would start to think about the surgery and the processes that they might, and I stress might go through. Fortunately, I knew that I could sleep after the surgery on Friday 1st July 2022.
My sister, her partner and I were up early on the morning of the surgery. I was allowed to have a small breakfast two hours before the surgery was to take place so I was booked in for my surgery at 9:30 am so I was able to eat at 6:00 am.
We arrived at Optical Express at 09:00 just as it opened and because my appointment was at 9:30 we went for tea at the local Marks & Spencer’s. We then went back to Optical Express for 09:30.
Now I imagined that on arrival I would have a few tests and then the surgery, but it was much more involved than that.
After a while of sitting in the waiting room, I was called into one of the rooms where they repeated some of the tests I had to do at my pre-op appointment. That involved looking into an instrument that checked my vision and focus. They also checked the back of my eye using very strong light and lens. It was not painful or uncomfortable at all. I was then taken upstairs to another waiting area for more tests.
To be very honest the hardest part of the process was the waiting. Bearing in mind that I arrived at Optical Express at 9:30 the surgery didn’t take place until around 13:00 (1:00 pm)
After about 20 minutes I was taken downstairs again as they had missed an eye test that wasn’t done at my initial pre-op test. I have to say at this point all the staff were very friendly, helpful and answered any questions I might have.
I assumed that the test that was missing was to test my peripheral vision. I sat in a dark room staring at a centre light and every time I saw a light in my peripheral vision I had to press a button. I am not sure why, but I had to repeat this test. Once completed I was once again taken upstairs to the surgery waiting room.
There appeared to be two other people in front of me and we all went through the same process.
After about 45 minutes I was called into a side room where I was invited to sit down and go through many vision tests. This one was a little different as I think the optician put some drops in my eyes to dilate my pupils and also a dye so that he could look at the back of my eye again and also take some measurements. We also discussed the kind of lenses I was hoping to have. My choice was to have the multifocal lenses rather than the mono-focal which would only give me either good vision for distance or close-up. I wanted to have distance, near and close-up vision.
I also believe he put some anaesthetic drops in my eyes too as he placed what he called beads in both eyes, and I wasn’t able to feel it.
He also marked above my right eye 1st and my left eye 2nd. I guessed correctly that was the order in which the operation would be done.
After those final tests, I waited for another 30 to 45 minutes before I was called in to see the surgeon, who would perform the cataract and lens replacement surgery. This was the final discussion before the surgery was due to go ahead.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly until my discussion with the surgeon. It was in the room with the surgeon where he told me some news that could complicate which lenses I could have implanted in my eye.
The surgeon showed me a diagram of my two eyes. On the right eye, there were lots of green areas around my pupil but in the left eye, there were a lot of green and yellow markings. This surgeon went on to tell me that I had some macular degeneration in my left eye.
He told me there were 3 colours to look out for. It was very much like a traffic light system, Green, Amber and Red. My left eye was in the amber region.
The reason I had to wait so long before seeing the surgeon was he had to ring the head office to discuss my results with other clinicians to discuss whether it would be appropriate to have multifocal or mono-focal lenses implanted because of the macular degeneration.
They decided I could if I wished to go ahead with the multifocal lenses, but it was my decision. At this stage, I was devastated as I didn’t think there would be anything to think about like this. I said to the surgeon that he is the expert, and I would go with what he suggested. I also said that I was hoping to be able to live without having to wear glasses and we decided to go for multifocal lenses.
While I was with the surgeon I mentioned that an optician had told me that I had astigmatism in my left eye. Astigmatism is when your eye is shaped more like a rugby ball than a football. Astigmatism can cause blurring and an optician will give a person glasses to correct this. I was told by the surgeon that I had astigmatism in both eyes, which was news to me. That had never been picked up in my previous eye examinations in the last 40 years.
The reason I mention this is because during surgery this can normally be corrected by using a Toric lens.
After seeing the surgeon I was taken back to the waiting room, where I sat for around 25 minutes. I was then called into another room where I had to sit and wait for my turn for surgery. As I waited I saw the person before me walk into the room and asked how she felt, she said she felt fine. That was the end of that conversation as she had someone waiting for her.
I was then taken into another room where I met the Anaesthetist. Now the whole surgery is done while you are awake so I knew I would not have anything to make me sleep. I did ask for a mild sedative to calm my nerves which was a tablet. I took this but I will be honest and say that I didn’t feel any effect from it.
The Anaesthetist then took my blood pressure and oxygen levels. The goodness was that I had excellent blood pressure, which under the circumstances I thought would be high from the nervousness I was feeling.
Local anaesthetic drops were put into my eyes and she removed the beads from my eyes that were placed there earlier and then I walked into the room, I don’t know if you would call it an operating theatre, where I would have the surgery done.
On walking into the operating theatre I was introduced to the team that would be doing and assisting in the operation, though because of the circumstances I don’t remember their names. Also the Surgeon I discussed my options with earlier was also in the room.
I was then asked to lie down on a couch, it wasn’t a table as you would expect in a hospital. It was more like something you would see in dentists, but it was flat and padded with a headrest.
At this point, I started to relax a little as for me the worst was over and now I was just going to let go and let the experts do their job.
This is the part my blog post has been building up to, the surgery itself. I could not see what the surgeon was doing from where I was laying but I can share my experience from my perspective.
A blue adhesive sheet was placed over my face. Some people who suffer from claustrophobia might find this unnerving, but I can assure you that the cloth is light and breathable and also you can see a little through it.
Once the cloth was securely on my face I saw the surgeon cut a hole in the sheet with a scalpel and then they placed something over my right eye. Remember I said the place the 1st over my right eye? I think what they placed over my eyes was designed to keep my eye open and stop me from blinking.
They then placed some drops again in my eye. Throughout the surgery, drops were put into my eye. I assumed that this could be aesthetic and antibiotic drops. I found the drops comforting in my eyes.
The surgeon then began the procedure. Above my head were 3 very bright lights, the surgeon then asked me to concentrate on looking in the centre of the 3 lights. That was something I did to take my mind off what was about to happen.
Now, this is important for you to know, that when the surgeon made the incision into my eyes there was no pain whatsoever. There was slight pressure, but it was very mild, and I didn’t have to grit my teeth as It was completely painless.
Once the incision was made they began to remove my cataract and lens in my right eye. My sister who had the same procedure 3 months earlier told me of her experience at this stage. She told me that she could see the white lights, when the removed the lens it went red and when the replaced the lens she could see the white light again.
This wasn’t my experience. When they removed the lens in my right eye I could hear a noise, it wasn’t loud, but I thought it was either the ultrasonic device that breaks up the lens or it was the device that removed the lens. As the lens was removed the white light above me went out of focus. It was like having drops in your eyes that obscures your vision or swimming underwater without goggles, but I could still make out the light.
Once the lens was removed the surgeon informed me that it had been removed and they were able to get it all out, that was a relief as I had read about the possibility that some could get stuck in the eye and would have to be removed by surgery.
When it was time to put in the replacement lens the surgeon told me that I would feel a change in the pressure of my eyes. As the new lens was implanted into my eye I could see it move across my vision.
I could see the concentric rings as the lens was put into place. Again I want to emphasise that there was no pain, only a slight discomfort thanks to the anaesthetic that was continually put into my eye. Before performing surgery on my left eye. They taped a plastic shield over my eye, which I had to wear for the rest of the day.
Once the surgery on that eye was complete they removed the device that kept my eye open and removed the adhesive sheet and asked me if I was ok before proceeding with my left eye.
The procedure for my left eye was the same as for my right eye. Again I did not feel any pain at any point during the procedure there was a slight discomfort but nothing I would call memorable. After the operation on my left eye, the placed a plastic shield over it to protect it.
The whole operation took between 20 to 25 minutes for both eyes. The longest part of the day was the waiting and testing and interviews. After my surgery, I was taken from the operating room into the final room where I was given some antibiotic drops.
I was given 2 lots of eye drops, levofloxacin which is an antibiotic to stop bacterial infection. I was also given Prednisolone which is a steroid that prevents inflammation of the eye. On the day of the surgery, I was told to use both drops every 2 hours and the next day I was to use them 4 times a day.
I was given drops for both the left and right eyes to stop contamination of the bottles. I am to use the levofloxacin for 13 days and the Prednisolone for 28 days.
After my surgery, I was able to leave Optical Express. I had my sister with me, and Optical Express do insist that you have someone with you as your vision will not be perfect right after surgery, plus you will be wearing shields over your eyes, and you may find that natural light will seem very bright and so that can also affect your vision. I would recommend also that you have a dark pair of sunglasses with you as this will help deal with light.
I also wore a jacket with a hood. The purpose of wearing a jacket with a hood was also to block light that was coming from over my head. You will immediately notice after surgery that everything is a lot brighter, in some cases dazzling. you could wear any type of clothing with a hood or even a baseball cap.
Once outside of Optical Express I just wanted to get a coffee and something to eat as I had not eaten since 6 am. So that is what we did. We then went home and I went to bed for a few hours as recommended by the surgeon
I woke up with a slight burning sensation in my eyes. mainly due to my eyes being dry. I had to attend Optical Express the next day for my 24-hour eye test. It was another early start to the day, but this time it was in Leicester instead of Nottingham where I had the surgery.
I found that could read the small print on boxes and various other things. I could also see a circle at the side of both eyes. My brain will adjust. Slight blurriness with distance
The optician did the focus test, and pressure test. the optician also gave me advice on macular degeneration. The advice was to eat dark leafy vegetables and different coloured fruit as they contain lutein which replenishes the yellow substance at the back of the eye that helps reduce macular degeneration.
during the appointment, the optician checked the back of my eyes. The right eye had more inflammation than the left eye but was told it would settle down. My vision was good enough to drive but I recommended waiting a few days
I woke up and my eyes felt a little smeary. I have some discomfort and am also light-sensitive. My sister helped me put the first lot of antibiotic and steroid drops into my eyes which helped the discomfort. I also used a gauze pad and pre-boiled water that had cooled down to was around my eyes.
I noticed that there was some flickering light on my periphery vision. I was told that was quite normal and would settle with time.
I was able to do things I would normally do, such as watch TV, and go out for a meal.
Woke up with eyes a little sticky but no discharge from my eyes, which is a good sign that the antibiotic and steroid drops were working well.
I put my drops into my eyes first thing when I got up. I have to put in two lots of antibiotic drops in both eyes 4 times a day.
The instructions Vision Express gave me were to place the antibiotic drops in my eyes for 13 days and the steroid drops for 28 days.
I found it difficult to wash my face so I used wet wipes to wash my face and boiled water on a gauze dressing to clean under my eyes. My eyes are still sensitive to strong light but I hoped that it would only be temporary.
I continued with the antibiotic drops. I noticed some flickering waves in my vision. My eyes still feel dry but I can use some Optrex spray for dry eyes which helps with some symptoms of dry eyes.
I still had flickering in my peripheral vision. Also a slight headache from the bright sunshine. It helps when I take Ibuprofen for the headache. I continue to wear polarised sunglasses when outside. I sometimes wear them indoors too to stop flickering.
I felt that my vision was good enough to drive from Leicestershire back home.
It is my first time driving since my cataract operation. I was told by the optician at my first post-op appointment not to drive before Thursday.
The journey home was uneventful and could see traffic. I was still experiencing sore dry eyes. I was told that dry eyes after an operation could persist for up to a month.
I woke up with very sore eyes and it took a short while to focus but everything was ok within moments.
I attended my second optician at a local Vision Express, this is usual after cataract surgery. I have to attend appointments 24 hours after surgery, one week after surgery, one month and then 3 months. If everything has gone as planned I would be discharged. Though Vision does give care for up to 12 months which is included in the price you pay for surgery.
At my appointment, the optician told me that I have 20/20 vision in my right eye. I did mention that I was told I had macular degeneration in my left eye and the optician was surprised they went ahead with the multifocal lens replacement as opposed to the monofocal lenses because of the macular degeneration.
I was given some drops that lubricate my eyes between antibiotic drops. I was told to leave 5 minutes between using the antibiotic drops and eye drops for dry eyes.
My next appointment will be a month after my operation which is the 30th of April.
I asked about using a computer/laptop and the optician suggested I take a lot of screen breaks and lower the display level so it is comfortable to look at
I attended my one-month appointment with the optician and explained I still have dry eyes and also distance vision isn’t as clear as I hoped it would be by now.
During the eye test, the optician and I did discuss what she described as a top-up surgery for my eyes. this is to improve my distance vision but my near and close-up vision may not be as good.
This would involve LASIK surgery, which is laser surgery on my right eye, but the decision to do this would not be until after the three months were up and we will discuss this at the next appointment
I still have dry eyes, but this may not be due to surgery, this could be something I have always had but never noticed. I do remember trying contact lenses some time ago, but they kept dropping out of my eyes which could have been due to dry eye.
I hope that the dry eye syndrome may settle and that will improve my distance vision, as dry eye can affect vision a lot. If I have to have LASIK surgery of course I will post my experience on that.
I have no regrets at all about having cataract surgery. my vision without glasses is so much better. The anticipation of living a life without glasses outweighed any fear of the surgery I had. I would recommend it to anyone who was to ask me.
If you enjoyed reading this post about my post-op cataract removal and lens replacement surgery and you want to read more then look at my post about my pre-op experience with Vision Express, click here to read about it.
If you are interested in having cataract surgery yourself and would like to know more then please leave a comment below.
Also if you are interested in surgery, as an ex-patient I may be able to get you a discount on your operation. If this is also something you are interested in again comment below.
Please feel free to share your experience of your cataract operation, or maybe laser surgery below in the comments I would love to hear your experience.
I also have many other blog posts that you might be interested to read. everything from movies and music to books and technology. Click here to see what is on offer.