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Advice for people who are waiting for cataract surgery

Delays in routine surgery could mean that if you are waiting for cataract surgery, your wait will be extended. While this is unavoidable, the following information may help you to cope while you wait.

Please be reassured that a delay in surgery for cataracts does not put your sight at risk permanently. Cataracts do not cause permanent loss of vision and a delay of several months would not mean you are at a higher risk of complications or that the result will not be as good as it would have been.

If you have reduced vision, there are several simple changes you can make that will help you to make the most of your sight.

  1. Lighting – having lighting that is directed onto the task or around trip hazards can make a big difference to how well you see. Avoid bright unshaded central room lights and use blinds and net curtains to shield you from bright sunshine. Sitting with your back to the window when reading also helps to make the most of the sunlight. Take a look at our lighting guide to help you with ideas.
  2. Magnification – simple low powered magnifiers or magnifiers on your mobile devices can help with small print and instructions on packaging. Usually, it is better to have these prescribed by an optician or low vision clinic practitioner, so if your local optician is available, call them for advice. If your local optician is not available, order magnifiers only from websites that offer a returns policy. Most mobile phones have built in facility to magnify or be used as a magnifier. Some devices can read text to you or enable you to scan bar codes for instruction details. There are many options that you may not be aware of. We have more information on magnification in our Technology Resource Hub.
  3. Reading – if reading is too difficult or tiring you might enjoy our Talking Books service, which is free. We also have a Newsagent service which offers popular newspapers and magazines in accessible formats.
  4. TV Audio Description – if you are struggling to enjoy TV programmes because of your vision, try enabling audio description (AD). Our page on AD has information on how to do this. Audio description describes what is happening on screen so that you don’t miss any of the detail of the programmes which is important, for instance, when watching a soap opera and action of the screen might otherwise be missed.
  5. Trip hazards – it is important that you have a look around your home and environment to think about what might cause you potential trips and falls. This includes rugs, uneven surfaces, steps or stairs that are not marked clearly. Remind family and friends not to leave objects in walkways in your home or move pieces of furniture without warning you.
  6. Medication – if you are struggling to see your medication packages, speak to your pharmacist to explain the situation and they will be able to dispense your medication safely. If you are diabetic, speak to your diabetic nurse to make sure you have equipment appropriate to monitoring and treating your condition that you are able to see or that has an audio alternative.
  7. Correspondence/post – notify your service providers that you require bills or correspondence in large print so that you don’t miss anything important.
  8. Sight loss advice – there is a range of services and support available through our Sight Loss Advice Service. If you have any questions, you can contact us on 0303 123 9999.

For more tips, please look at our leaflet called Making the Most of Your Sight, which gives some useful advice for people living with reduced vision.


Drivers can check if they need to tell DVLA about an eyesight problem by searching their A to Z of medical conditions that could affect their driving or by calling their medical helpline on 0300 790 6806.