Cataract Surgery FAQs

Professor Claoué is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon in East London and at Harley Street specialising in cataract corneal and refractive disorders of the eye. He has been an innovator in cataract surgery for 20 years and has many journal and book chapter publications.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cataract Surgery


Will I see anything unpleasant during cataract surgery?

No; one eye is covered and the instruments are so close to the eye being operated on that only vague shapes can be seen; no details.


Is my eye taken out during cataract surgery?

 No; a gentle instrument is used to open the eyelids wide but the eye remains in its usual place.


Do cataracts come back after surgery to remove them?

No; a cataract operation is a once per eye per life procedure.


Cataract Surgery is a simple procedure, isn’t it?

No; cataract surgery is highly skilful, and takes years of training. Simply because it is a small organ and a short operation doesn’t make it simple.


Are there any risks associated with cataract surgery?

Although cataract surgery is safe, there is always a small risk with any surgical procedure of being worse afterwards rather than better. Fortunately, this is extremely rare in cataract surgery, which is widely considered to be one of the safest and most successful surgical procedures.


Cataract surgery is all done by lasers, isn’t it?

No; although lasers can be involved and are likely to be more involved in the future, the standard technique is called “phacoemulsification” and is a way of converting “cataract rock to cataract soup” so that it can be sucked up a very fine needle.


The special IOLs are available via the NHS, aren’t they?

No; unfortunately the NHS sees the need to wear spectacles as an acceptable outcome following cataract surgery, and a desire not to wear them as “cosmetic” and therefore not something that it funds. Whilst in rare cases, toric or multifocal IOLs are available on the NHS, in the vast majority of cases where they would benefit a patient they are sadly not available.


My optician says I’m “not ready” for cataract surgery – how long do I have to wait?

It is not necessary to wait for a cataract to be disabling before having surgery. Many patients have surgery with little cataract merely to avoid being so dependent on glasses; this surgery is called “Refractive Lens Exchange” rather than cataract surgery but it is very similar.

Has a sudden onset. Full medical glossary
Loss of transparency of the lens of the eye. Full medical glossary
The transparent, thin-walled dome that forms the front of the eyeball. Full medical glossary