Post date: 
Monday, 18 June 2018
Image of a cataract operation

Last month Geoff Smith had a cataract removed. Geoff kept a diary of his experience and takes us with him, every step of the way.

Dear diary, let me introduce my cataracts

I have cataracts in both eyes. A few years ago I didn’t even notice them, although my eye specialist told me they were coming. Gradually they worsened and my eyesight became mistier and fuzzier. 
Living with cataracts is hard, a bright sunny day might be nice for some but I find the glare uncomfortable. In every way, my vision is worse, I find reading particularly tough. 
I feel lucky to have the opportunity to remove the cloudy lens from my eye. I’m actually looking forward to it but I’m a little nervous about being awake during the procedure. Generally cataracts come in a pair, that’s the case for me. 
I know quite a few blind and visually impaired people and many of them seem to have coped with their sight loss much better than me. My sight will get worse over time, as I have a lifelong deteriorating eye condition called Rod-Cone Dystrophy, which is one of the reasons why I also have early onset cataracts. I hope as time goes by I’ll learn to come to terms with my sight loss. 

Dear diary, preparing for the op

Yesterday I had my preoperative assessment which was very reassuring. The staff were very friendly and I have every confidence in them.
I was told exactly what would happen on the day. I’ll arrive at the hospital for 7.30am where I’ll wait until it’s my turn to go to theatre.
When I’m in theatre I’ll lie down on an operating trolley. Using a felt-tip pen the ophthalmologist will mark which eye will be operated on. My face will be covered with green gauze and I’ll be given local anaesthetic. I must lie still for 20 minutes while the precise and delicate operation is performed.
My old lens will be removed and the new plastic implant put in its place. I’ll need to wear a shield for the first night to avoid any dust or irritation getting inside, and if I use the shower or wash my face for another 24 hours.
When all is done I’ll sit in the waiting room and will be sent home once the staff are happy. I’m a little worried about this part, I currently live alone and will need to get a bus and train home. 

Dear diary, it’s operation day

Operation day has arrived! It was an early start to ensure I got to the hospital on time, I was one of seven due to have cataracts removed that morning. 
I wasn’t at all nervous, the medical staff were calm and made sure I knew what was going on. 
Generally cataract surgery is a very safe procedure. Mr Hughes operated on my right eye a couple of years ago and it was very reassuring to have him for this procedure too. 

The operation was done under local anaesthetic and drops, in my case I also had a small injection. I didn’t feel any pain or discomfort, it may even sound a bit odd but I enjoyed the whole thing. 

A volunteer called Judy sat with me during the procedure. She held my hand and chatted, I also spoke to Mr Hughes about my summer plans with blind cricket – the 20 minutes flew by! 
The day got a bit trickier after that as I needed to make way home on my own. I had no family or friends to pick me up. Long story short, I got home two hours later, tired but happy. I also had to take care of myself at home. The medical side of things was great, but after that was difficult. If you can, get someone to help you before and after your operation.

Dear diary, my recovery

I’m getting into the swing of using the eye drops. I need four drops per day for one month to help protect my eye from infection. This is as important as the operation itself. Mr Hughes was concerned that there might be inflammation after the operation. Thanks to his good work and the drops, I’ve had no problems or discomfort at all.
I can see slightly better now, no fuzzy vision or problems with glare. I saw Mr Hughes last week and he was very happy with the outcome. My left eye is too far gone and won’t be operated on but I’m very happy with my right eye and grateful to the wonderful staff and the NHS who helped me.