What can I see during my cataract operation?

Having cataract surgery is a quick and painless procedure. It has excellent results with little risk of complications.

The vast majority of my patients undergo cataract surgery using local anaesthesia.

Local anaesthesia can either involve an infusion of local anaesthetic around the eyeball. We call this a subtenon’s anaesthetic. Or, we can make a small injection of local anaesthetic into the front of the eye. We call this an intracameral injection.

Both types of anaesthetic reduce any discomfort whilst having your cataract surgery.

With a subtenon’s infusion, the local anaesthetic temporarily numbs the pain nerves around the eye. It also relaxes the muscles of the eye and puts the optic nerve to sleep.

What patients tend to see whilst this subtenon’s anaesthetic takes effect is a gradual blurring of their vision. The vision blurs to where they can usually only distinguish light and dark.

Seeing instruments coming towards their eyes can be a source of worry for many patients. I always reassure my patients that they will not see devices coming towards them during cataract surgery.

Patients undergoing the intracameral injection technique can experience quite a range of interesting visual phenomena.

Again I reassure them that they will not see any instrumentation coming towards them. These patients tend to see the bright light from the operating microscope at first. But, because I’ve not put their optic nerve to sleep, some patients report seeing a range of attractive colours during their cataract operation. Last week, one of my patients described a swirling pool of purple turning blue.

A recent study looked at what patients report they see during cataract surgery and the effect on the anxiety level of these patients. I have discussed the benefits of handholding during cataract surgery in lowering anxiety levels.

The research reports that the most common colours seen by patients (in descending order) were blue, red, pink, yellow, green, purple, turquoise and orange.

The most dominant colour combination was red and blue. They also reported that the majority of the 200 patients surveyed did not find them unpleasant.

Once the anaesthetic wears off and I complete your surgery, the colours you see disappear and your vision returns to normal after an hour or so.

Once I tell my patients what to expect during their cataract surgery, they can relax more, and some even enjoy the light show.

If you would like to know more about cataracts or other aspects of your cataract surgery, please feel free to call me on 020 7305 5063 and we can chat some more.