How To Prepare For Cataract Surgery: Everything You Need To Know

21 September 2023

By Author: Amir Hamid

Understanding how to prepare for cataract surgery can feel overwhelming, but it’s completely normal to feel a sense of nervousness before your procedure. At Optegra, we understand these concerns and are committed to helping you feel confident and well-informed every step of the way. Our team of experts is here to address any questions you may have and alleviate any fears.

Effective preparation not only ensures your physical readiness for the procedure but also contributes to a calm state of mind on the day of surgery and paves the way for a smoother and more comfortable recovery.

So, let’s get ready for cataract surgery.

Preparing for Your Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery is a remarkably safe and transformative procedure that can significantly enhance your vision and quality of life. At Optegra, we want to ensure that your journey towards better vision is smooth and successful. Below are some important steps you should take prior to your treatment to ensure the best experience possible.

  1. Monitor Changes in Your Eyes: Pay close attention to any changes in your eyes. Inform your consultant about any alterations in your vision, even if they seem minor. These details can help us tailor your surgery and aftercare to your specific needs, ensuring the best possible results.
  2. Discontinue Contact Lens Use: If you wear contact lenses, it’s crucial to cease wearing them at least three days before your surgery. Contact lenses can alter the shape of your cornea, affecting the accuracy of pre-operative measurements. By discontinuing their use, we can obtain the most precise measurements for your vision correction.
  3. Use Prescribed Eye Drops as Directed: Depending on your individual circumstances, you may be prescribed specific eye drops leading up to your cataract surgery. These drops are crucial for preparing your eye and reducing the risk of infection. Follow the instructions provided meticulously to ensure your eyes are in the best possible condition for surgery.
  4. Arrange Transport: Arrange for someone to drive you to and from the eye hospital on the day of the procedure, as you may be temporarily unable to drive immediately after surgery. Having a friend or family member available to assist you at home for the first day or two post-surgery can also be helpful.

Post-Operative Care: Familiarise yourself with the post-operative instructions provided by your surgeon. This may include using prescribed eye drops, wearing a protective eye shield, and avoiding strenuous activities for a specific period of time. Having a comfortable and conducive environment at home for your recovery is essential. Visit our blog for more useful tips for recovery after your cataract surgery.

What Medications Should Be Stopped Before Cataract Surgery?

Before cataract surgery, patients should be aware of specific medications that may need to be stopped or adjusted in consultation with their main healthcare provider. The decision to discontinue medications will depend on individual medical history and the guidance of the surgeon, but here are some general or common medications that may be discussed:

  1. Blood Thinners: Anticoagulant medications, such as aspirin, can increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Depending on the patient’s condition and the surgeon’s recommendation, these medications may be adjusted or temporarily discontinued before cataract surgery.
  2. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs like ibuprofen can also affect blood clotting. Your surgeon may advise discontinuing these medications for a specified period before surgery to minimise bleeding risk.
  3. Certain Herbal Supplements: Some herbal supplements, such as garlic, ginkgo biloba, and ginseng, may have blood-thinning effects. Patients should inform their surgeon about any herbal supplements they are taking, and these may need to be stopped before surgery.
  4. Alpha Blockers: Alpha blockers can affect the muscles of the iris, potentially leading to a condition called floppy iris syndrome during cataract surgery. Your surgeon may recommend discontinuing these medications before the procedure.
  5. Diabetic Medications: For patients with diabetes, adjustments to insulin or oral antidiabetic medications may be necessary in consultation with their endocrinologist or GP. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is crucial during surgery.

It’s essential to emphasise that decisions regarding medication adjustments should be made in collaboration with your doctor, your cataract surgeon, and any other specialists you may be seeing for other conditions. Do not discontinue any medication without proper guidance, as it can have adverse effects on your overall health.

Always communicate your complete medical history, including all medications and supplements you are taking, to your surgeon during the preoperative evaluation. This information will help them make informed decisions and ensure a safe and successful cataract surgery experience.


What to Expect of the Pre-Op Assessment Before Cataract Surgery

The pre-operative assessment before cataract surgery is a crucial step in ensuring the procedure’s safety and success. Patients can expect a thorough evaluation that may include the following components:

  1. Eye Measurements: The surgeon will assess the shape and size of the eye, typically using non-invasive techniques like optical biometry or partial coherence interferometry. These measurements help determine the power and type of intraocular lens (IOL) needed for your vision correction. This measurement is usually done a few weeks to a month before the surgery.
  2. Visual Acuity Test: An eye chart test will be conducted to measure your visual acuity and identify the extent of visual impairment caused by cataracts.
  3. Slit-Lamp Examination: The surgeon will use a slit-lamp microscope to examine the front structures of your eye, including the cornea, iris, and lens. This helps assess the cataract’s maturity and any other eye conditions that might affect the surgery.
  4. Dilated Pupil Evaluation: The pupil may be dilated to allow for a better view of the lens and retina. This helps the surgeon plan the surgical approach and ensure optimal visualisation during the procedure.
  5. Biometric Data: Other biometric data, such as corneal curvature and axial length, may be measured to refine the IOL calculations further.
  6. Medical History and Medication Review: A detailed medical history will be taken to identify any underlying health conditions, allergies, or medications you are currently taking. Patients with conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure may undergo additional health assessments or consultations to ensure these conditions are well managed before surgery.
  7. Discussion of Expectations: Your surgeon will discuss your expectations, preferences, and goals for the surgery. This includes discussing the potential benefits and risks associated with cataract surgery.
  8. Informed Consent: You will be provided with information about the procedure and potential complications. After having all your questions answered, you will be asked to sign an informed consent form, indicating your understanding and agreement to proceed with the surgery.
  9. Surgical Planning: Based on the gathered information and measurements, the medical team will plan the surgical approach, including the type of IOL to be implanted, the surgical technique, and any specific considerations for your case. Your surgeon will discuss the different lenses available for your cataract surgery and help you determine which might be most suitable for your lifestyle and vision goals.


Do You Need Eye Drops Before Cataract Surgery?

You may need to use eye drops before cataract surgery. The use of eye drops is a common part of the pre-operative preparation for cataract surgery and serves several purposes:

  1. Dilation: Eye drops are often used to dilate (enlarge) the pupil. This dilation allows for better visualisation of the cataract and the structures inside the eye during the surgery. It also facilitates the surgeon’s access to the cataract.
  2. Infection Prevention: Some eye drops may contain antibiotics or antiseptic agents to reduce the risk of infection. These drops are typically used in the days leading up to the surgery to prepare the eye and minimise the chance of infection during the procedure.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory: In some cases, anti-inflammatory eye drops may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and swelling in the eye before surgery. This can help create a stable and healthy environment for the surgical procedure.

The specific eye drops you receive, and the duration of their use will depend on your surgeon’s preferences, your individual eye health, and any pre-existing eye conditions.


Foods to Avoid Prior to Your Surgery

At Optegra we provide local anaesthesia  therefore you do not need to make any dietary changes before your surgery. If you are having general anaesthetic at a different hospital you should follow their pre-operative dietary instructions closely.

Can I Drink Alcohol Before Cataract Surgery?

Patients should generally avoid consuming alcohol before cataract surgery. Alcohol can have various effects on the body, including dehydration, interactions with anaesthesia and medications, and potential adverse effects on the surgical process. Therefore, it’s advisable to abstain from alcohol at least 24 hours before surgery.

For patients who may want to regulate their nerves, it is possible to opt for a mild sedative to help them relax during surgery.


What Do You Wear for Cataract Surgery?

When preparing for cataract surgery, it’s important to choose comfortable and appropriate clothing to ensure the most comfortable patient experience. Here are some clothing and grooming tips for the day of your cataract surgery:


  1. Loose and Comfortable Clothing: Opt for loose-fitting clothing that is easy to put on and take off. This will be especially helpful when changing into the surgical gown. A button-down shirt or a top with a wide neck can be particularly convenient.
  2. Layers: Consider wearing layers, as the temperature in the clinic can vary. You can easily adjust your comfort level by adding or removing layers as needed.
  3. Short-Sleeved or Sleeveless: If possible, choose a short-sleeved or sleeveless top to facilitate the placement of intravenous lines and blood pressure cuffs during surgery.
  4. Comfortable Bottoms: Select comfortable pants or shorts that are easy to put on and take off. Elastic waistbands can be a practical choice.

Avoid Make-Up:

Women are generally advised to avoid wearing makeup, especially eye makeup, on the day of cataract surgery. Makeup can increase the risk of infection and interfere with surgery or anaesthesia.


Wear comfortable and supportive shoes with non-slip soles. This will help you walk safely and comfortably before and after the surgery.

Jewellery and Accessories:

It’s important to remove all jewellery, including rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, before the surgery. These items can interfere with the surgical equipment and may need to be removed anyway.


If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, bring a case for them. You’ll be asked to remove them before the surgery, so having a safe place to store them is essential.

Change of Clothes:

Bringing a change of clothes for after the surgery can make you feel more comfortable when you’re ready to leave the facility.

What next? Get in touch for free, no-obligation advice.

If you’re suffering from cataracts, why not contact us to see if we can help? Our friendly and experienced patient services team is waiting to offer advice on how we can provide treatment quickly and comfortably. Or learn more about cataract surgery with Optegra.

Amir Hamid Headshot

By Author: Amir Hamid

Mr. Amir Hamid is a Clinical Lead for Vision Correction and an expert refractive surgeon, based in London.

Medically Reviewed Date: 21st September 2023


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