Cataract Surgery


Cataract surgery is the only effective way to treat cataracts. The procedure is performed by one of our experienced ophthalmologists and is usually performed as day surgery. Cataract surgery removes the affected lens and replaces it with a suitable artificial intraocular lens.

What is a cataract?

Characterised by a clouding and opacification of the lens of your eye, cataracts are most often a degenerative change that can develop over time. If not treated, cataracts can interfere with your vision, making it difficult to read, drive, or see well at night.
Cataracts can be age-related, commonly occurring in those over 70 years old, and often they are already beginning to form by the age of 40. They can also be caused by eye injuries and radiation (including UV rays and radiation treatment) and can be more likely to occur in those who have a genetic predisposition to cataracts, are smokers or have certain health conditions such as diabetes. Paediatric cataracts can also occur, and these may be diagnosed at birth or in early childhood.
If cataracts are minor, they may not cause significant symptoms. However, once you are experiencing symptoms an assessment is recommended. The only way to effectively treat cataracts is with cataract surgery, involving removal of the affected lens and replacing it with an artificial intraocular lens.

Common symptoms of cataracts

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend seeing one of our ophthalmologists for a comprehensive assessment.
Symptoms of cataracts can include:

If cataracts are treated promptly, they can be prevented from significantly interfering with vision. If you are beginning to notice any of the above symptoms, we recommend visiting one of our ophthalmologists at Valley Eye Specialists.

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Preparing for cataract surgery

We will provide you with any necessary instructions to follow in the lead up to your surgery, to ensure you are prepared. We may ask you to fast, or to make changes to medications (such as diabetes medications or blood thinning medications).
When you arrive at the surgical facility, you will need to have some eye drops instilled in your eye to prepare it for surgery. You should avoid bringing any jewellery or valuables to the hospital as these may need to be removed during the procedure.

Cataract surgery at Valley Eye Specialists in Brisbane

Cataract surgery at Brisbane’s Valley Eye Specialists will be performed by one of our experienced ophthalmologists. It is usually performed as day surgery, and is performed either at Brisbane Day Surgery in Spring Hill or at North West Private Hospital in Everton Park.

Your procedure may be performed with local anaesthetic only, local anaesthetic with sedation or under general anaesthetic. You will discuss your anaesthetic options in detail during your consultation and also with your anaesthetist before your surgery.

The surgery is typically performed through very small wounds in the eye that heal without the use of stitches. First, using microscopic ultrasound techniques, the clouded lens is removed. It is then replaced with the most suitable type of intraocular artificial lens. Throughout your procedure, the hospital team will work to ensure that you remain comfortable.
Immediately following surgery, you will be monitored in a recovery area to ensure that you are feeling well, before being cleared to return home. The entire process typically takes about three hours. You won’t be able to drive after surgery, so please arrange for transportation home from the hospital. Ideally, you should also have someone stay with you for the first night after your surgery. Before you go home, you will be informed of the appropriate measures to take to support your recovery.

What to expect after cataract surgery

You should follow any recovery instructions provided to you by your ophthalmologist. Your ophthalmologist will consider your personal health factors, lifestyle factors and the details of your individually tailored surgery to instruct you on how to care for your eyes after the procedure.
You will be given eye drops to use regularly for four weeks after surgery, and you will also be required to take precautions regarding physical activity and keeping the eye clean. You will return to the practice for follow-up care during your recovery.

What is normal to experience post-surgery?

After cataract surgery, you may notice some watering or redness of your eye, but should not experience significant pain. Vision may not necessarily improve instantly and typically takes about one to three weeks to stabilise. If you experience increasing pain or redness or worsening vision, you will need to contact your treating ophthalmologist for further advice and urgent review if required.

What is normal to experience post-surgery?

You will need to avoid rubbing or touching your eyes, and you will cover your eye with a plastic shield overnight while sleeping for the first week. You

won’t be able to drive immediately after surgery – your ophthalmologist will let you know when it is safe to do so. For the first four weeks after surgery, you will be asked to avoid bending down or lifting heavy objects. You will also need to keep your eye clean and dry, and should avoid skincare products or makeup use around the eye area.

What are secondary cataracts?

After cataract surgery, some patients can develop opacification behind their intraocular lens, which is sometimes known as a secondary cataract. This can result in a reduction in your quality of vision, however can be easily treated with laser technology (YAG laser posterior capsulotomy).

The costs of cataract surgery

Our team will provide you with information regarding the expected cost of your consultation and diagnostic tests required, together with the applicable Medicare rebate, upon the confirmation of an appointment. Please note that appointments cannot be bulk billed.
The costs of your cataract surgery will overall include a fee for the surgeon performing the cataract surgery, the anaesthetist who will provide your anaesthesia, and the hospital fee. Hospital fees will depend on your chosen hospital. We can perform cataract surgery at either Brisbane Day Surgery or North West Private Hospital.
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Medicare and Private Health Insurance

Patients may be eligible for a partial Medicare rebate for the consultation and some of the diagnostic tests required. To be eligible for a Medicare rebate, you will need a current referral and must meet Medicare’s criteria. Our Reception team can submit the claim to Medicare electronically upon full payment.
While consultations are not covered by Private Health Insurance providers, some providers may be able to cover a portion or all of the costs associated with surgery. Our team can provide you with personalised advice regarding your surgery costs after your consultation.

Will I need diagnostic imaging before cataract surgery?

You will need a thorough assessment which includes a comprehensive ophthalmic examination as well as imaging and measurements of your eye, before undergoing cataract surgery.

Your ophthalmologist will consider your medical history, any medications or supplements you are taking, and lifestyle factors that may affect your general eye health. The type of diagnostic imaging you need will be explained further during your consultation. You can learn more about our diagnostic imaging here.