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Conditions FAQs

Common queries about conditions answered, with detailed explanations of what to expect, how the condition develops and your options.

Cataracts FAQs

Glaucoma FAQs

Macular Degeneration FAQs

Pterygium FAQs

Diabetic Eye Disorder FAQs

  • What is a cataract?
  • A cataract is a clouding of the part of your eye called the lens. A cataract is not a growth or a film over the eye. It is very common and is usually caused by the simple process of getting older. Almost everyone over the age of 60 years has some degree of cataract formation in one or both of their eyes. Eye injuries, diabetes, or other diseases and certain medications can contribute to their formation.
  • How do people know when they have a cataract?
  • The most common symptom is blurred vision. As the cataract develops, the progressive clouding can make night driving difficult by intensifying the reflection of lights. Symptoms differ from one person to the next. It depends on the type of cataract and how far it has progressed.
  • How will I know if I need surgery?
  • In most cases cataract surgery is required only when your vision requirements interferes with your work or the things you like to do, e.g. If you are a golfer you may be having trouble following the ball. 

    If the cataract is the only problem affecting the eye, modern surgical procedures can improve vision in 95% of cases. It is important for you to understand that no surgical procedure is perfect, and occasionally complications can occur. These are relatively rare, and can usually be corrected.
  • When is the best time to have cataract surgery?
  • In most cases you are the best judge of when it is time to have your cataract removed.  Your decision should be based on your standard for a full life -     
    • If you can no longer pass vision tests to maintain your driver's licence
    • If your job requires detailed work, your choice of timing may be dictated by your career needs
    • If you simply cannot do the things you would like to keep doing, you might decide that the time is right 

    There are a few cases in which cataract surgery should be done immediately, e.g. if the eye is acutely inflamed or there is a serious threat of glaucoma. 

    In the early days when surgical techniques were less refined, it was common to wait until the cataracts were far advanced. Today, however, eye surgeons are highly trained and modem surgical equipment permits safe operations at much earlier stages.

  • How will I feel, and how will my eye feel during the post-operative period of healing?
  • Even though you have had a delicate microsurgical operation, you should have an easy post-operative period of healing. You should feel as well as you did before surgery. In the majority of cases, you will not have your eye padded. Most patients have an intermittent scratchy feeling for a week or so. This is due to the tiny incision.  A slight headache over the operated eye is also very common. Any non-Asprin pain relief, e.g. Panadol, should provide relief.  Should you experience severe pain, please call the surgery. 
    Household chores which involve straining or lifting, gardening, as well as sporting activities, should be limited during the initial healing period. Read or watch TV as much as you wish. 
    Drops should be used faithfully until the bottles are finished. 
    Your hair cannot be washed for a week after surgery and care must be taken with water near your eye.
  • Should I use my present glasses?
  • Because your lens implant is now doing most of the focusing for your eye, your present glasses may be stronger than you need. However it is perfectly safe to continue wearing them during the healing period.
  • Will I need to get new glasses?
  • When your eye has fully healed, you will be measured to see if you will need glasses. While your new lens implant provides almost all the focussing necessary for distance, frequently a weaker pair of glasses will help to "fine tune" distance or near focus which will provide you with the best vision possible. Most patients will be ready to be measured for new glasses 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
  • Can I have any other treatment for cataract?
  • Diet, medicine, eye drops or exercise have not been shown to retard or prevent the development of cataracts. A cataract does not result from using the eyes too much, or by reading in bad light.
  • How soon will my vision improve?
  • The important thing is not how well you see on the morning after surgery, but how well you see when your eye is fully healed. With the clear lens implant you will probably notice that daylight is a little brighter than it was before surgery. Use sunglasses as you wish, but remember you don’t have to wear them! They are for comfort only.
  • What is my new implant like?
  • It is a foldable, plastic implant, with an ultra-violet filter, that has a focussing power specifically chosen for your eye.
  • How long will it take for my eye to heal?
  • Generally the eye will heal in about 3 weeks.  You will be scheduled for a follow up appointment betwen 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery, so that your surgeon can check that your eye has healed fully.
  • What special treatment does my eye require while healing?
  • Use drops as directed. Wear protective sunglasses whenever you are outside on sunny days if the glare causes discomfort. Avoid direct pressure on the eye – don’t rub or scratch the eye. 
  • How do I use my eye drops?
  • Please follow the instructions below
    • Lie back in a comfortable chair or bed with your head supported, face upwards
    • Keep both eyes open, looking at the ceiling
    • Pull the lower lid down gently with your fingertips
    • Squeeze the bottle, allowing the drop to fall inside the lower lid
    • Be careful not to touch the tip of the bottle to your eye
    • Leave 5 minutes between applications
  • What is Glaucoma?
  • Glaucoma is the term used to describe a group of eye diseases which damage the optic nerve, the nerve that connects the eye to the brain. If left untreated glaucoma can result in blindness.  In the more common forms of glaucoma there is increased pressure in the eye which presses on the optic nerve and causes a gradual loss of peripheral vision.

    Glaucoma is common, it occurs in 2% of Australians over the age of 40 (anyone can develop glaucoma)
  • Is Glaucoma affected by the use of my eyes?
  • No. Glaucoma is not affected by use of the eyes, e.g. television, reading, nor by emotion or stress.
  • Will the Glaucoma go away?
  • No. Glaucoma will not go away, it needs continuous treatment and monitoring.
  • Can I ever stop treatment?
  • No. If treatment is discontinued or neglected, further damage to your eyesight may occur.
  • Will my vision get better?
  • Intravitreal injections have been shown to maintain and improve vision in patients with Wet Macular Degeneration. Around one third of patients find that they have noticeably better vision with Lucentis injections.  Although the vision is improved, there is no cure, and this treatment needs to be repeated over time.  However, without the injections Macular Degeneration can reduce your eyesight quickly. Unfortunately, these treatments are only suitable at certain stages of the disease.

  • Why do I need an injection into my eye?
  • Injections of medication into the eye are referred to as intravitreal injections. Their purpose is to inject a specific medication as close as possible to the eye problem as possible - usually into the jelly-like substance at the back of the eye. Conditions such as macular degeneration, diabetic oedema and vein occlusions in the eye can sometimes be treated with these injections.
  • What will my eye feel like after surgery?
  • Your eye will probably be irritable / uncomfortable the day of the surgery.  Panadol / Panadeine is recommended for this.
  • What happens after the surgery?
  • You will have the eye padded, and will need to use some drops for a period of time afterwards to help the eye to heal.
  • Is there anything I should avoid doing after surgery?
  • You should avoid activities such as gardening or mowing which may cause dirt or dust to enter your eye.  You should not go swimming until advised to by your eye doctor.

    Since you have had some sedation we advise against driving a vehicle or signing legal documents for 24 hours.

  • I have had diabetes for 15 years and had my eyes screened 3 times. Each time the doctor told me everything was OK. Do I still need to continue with screening?
  • Yes. The likelihood of retinopathy increases with the duration of your diabetes.

    80% of diabetic patients have some changes within their eyes by 15 years of disease. It may not require laser therapy but the examination may give your doctors useful information about your general health.

  • I am a diabetic and the sole carer of my invalid husband. I really depend on my eyes for driving and reading his medications. What can I do to look after my vision?
  • Good control of your sugars has been shown to delay the development of retinopathy. Your local doctor and dietitian can help you with this as well as giving attention to your weight, blood pressure, dietary fats and cholesterol. All these factors maintain your general health as well as your vision.

    Regular eye review will detect retinopathy early and allow for timely application of laser therapy, thus minimising the risk of severe visual loss.

  • Can I have eye disease without any symptoms?
  • Yes. Retinopathy may be present at the diagnosis of your diabetes, particularly in late-onset diabetes where the blood sugars gradually rise and it is difficult to pick the exact time when the diabetes started.
  • Are there any symptoms I should watch out for?
  • If any of the following symptoms occur you should see your eye doctor immediately.

    1. A shower of floaters - like a cloud of mosquitoes drifting in and out of your vision.

    2. Distorted vision - the bending of a line of print on a page or the lines of a picket fence or wood panelling

    3. Black smudges - noticeable when looking a plain background or printed page where the print goes missing in patches


Please visit our Glossary of Terms page for an explanation of terms used.