Cataract Surgery Melbourne

What is a cataract?

The natural crystalline lens inside the eye is normally transparent. A cataract develops when this clear lens becomes cloudy. It usually occurs as a normal part of ageing and most people over the age of 50 will have some early signs of a cataract. Cataracts may also occur earlier in life (e.g. congenital cataracts) or may be caused by some medications (e.g. steroids), medical conditions (e.g. diabetes) or an injury to the eye (traumatic cataract).

Cataracts that occur as a natural part of ageing typically affect both eyes, and it may affect one eye more than the other initially. The onset of symptoms is often insidious, but can sometimes occur fairly rapidly over a few months.

What are the symptoms of a cataract?

The clear crystalline lens in your eye functions like a camera lens, focusing light to the back of the eye to give you clear vision. When a cataract forms, the cloudy lens blocks and scatters light, affecting the quality of your vision.

Common symptoms of a cataract include:

  • Blurred, hazy or cloudy vision
  • Difficulty seeing clearly in the distance (even with glasses)
  • Difficulty reading
  • Glare and scattering of lights at night, causing difficulty with night driving
  • Colours appearing duller or less bright
  • Difficulty discerning colour contrast
  • Increased sensitivity to bright light
  • Frequent changes in glasses prescription and increasing short-sightedness

If left untreated, a cataract can restrict your daily activities and affect your quality of life.


Cataract surgery is the only treatment for cataracts. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens, allowing light to focus sharply again in the eye, restoring clear vision. Modern cataract surgery not only restores your vision but can also reduce your dependence on glasses.

Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the world. Every year, more than 250,000 people undergo cataract surgery in Australia. It is also one of the safest surgical procedures in modern medicine.

What does cataract surgery involve?

Cataract surgery is usually performed as a day procedure under local anaesthetic. You will be given sedation to help you relax and anaesthetic drops to numb your eye so you won’t feel anything during the procedure.

Surgery involves removing the cataract through a small, self-sealing incision and replacing it with a clear artificial lens implant. The new lens implant will give you lifelong clear vision and does not require replacement.

The surgery takes 20 minutes, but you should expect to be at the hospital for at least two hours to allow for pre-operative preparation and postoperative recovery. Your second eye surgery is usually performed a week later.

What happens during cataract surgery?

Types of lens implants

During surgery, the cataract is removed and replaced with a new artificial lens implant or intraocular lens (IOL). There are three main types of IOLs available and your surgeon will recommend the one that best suits your visual requirements, personal preferences and lifestyle, whilst considering the overall health of your eye.

  • Single vision or monofocal IOLs are usually selected for clear distance vision in both eyes. Different powered monofocal IOLs can also be implanted in each eye to so that one eye (usually the dominant eye) is focused for clear distance vision, and the other eye for near vision. This is known as monovision, and helps increase your spread of focus and reduce your dependence on glasses.
  • Enhanced depth of focus (EDOF) IOLs increase your spectacle independence, giving you clear distance to intermediate vision. Reading glasses are usually required for near work and fine print.
  • Multifocal IOLs give you clear continuous vision from distance to near. Glasses are not usually required.

All three lens types are available in toric versions, which will correct for any astigmatism you may have. During your consultation, each of these options will be discussed with you to ensure that you understand the benefits of each. You may also view our vision simulator to learn more about these lens options.

How quickly will my vision improve after cataract surgery?

Recovery from cataract surgery is very quick, with most people enjoying clearer vision within a day or two. You will be given eye drops to be used for four weeks following surgery to assist with healing.

How do I know if I need cataract surgery?

The decision of when to proceed with cataract surgery depends on how much the cataract is impairing your vision and how it interferes with your daily life. People with visually demanding jobs may notice the visual effects of cataracts earlier and present for surgery at a much younger age. Others may not be aware of their cataracts until they have caused significant vision loss. Regular eye checks with your optometrist will ensure that your cataracts are diagnosed in a timely manner.

It is a misconception that cataracts need to be ‘mature’ before they should be removed.  On the contrary, mature cataracts are harder to remove and carries higher operative risks. Earlier cataract surgery is not only safer, it also allows you to enjoy the benefits of better quality vision sooner.

If you feel that your vision is affecting your ability to perform your normal daily activities, it may be time for cataract surgery. You may also make this decision in consultation with your ophthalmologist.

Booking a consultation

If you would like to find out more about cataract surgery, please contact us on (03) 9070 0955 to book a consultation or click on the button below to request a call back.

Cataract Surgery FAQs

Cataract surgery is performed to remove the cloudy lens (cataract) in your eye and replace it with a clear, artificial intraocular lens to allow clear vision to be restored. In refractive lens exchange however, instead of removing a cloudy lens, your natural clear lens is removed for the purpose of correcting the refractive (focussing) power of your eye to achieve spectacle independence. This procedure is also known as a clear lens exchange.

The surgery itself is exactly the same; however, the terminology allows for distinction between removal of a cloudy versus a clear lens.

Cataract surgery is covered by Medicare and private health insurance but not refractive lens exchange surgery.

The aim of modern cataract surgery is to improve your vision and reduce your dependence on glasses. Patients who have single vision and EDOF lenses will still need glasses for reading and this will be prescribed by your optometrist about 4-6 weeks after surgery. Patients who have multifocal lenses do not need to wear glasses after surgery.

We recommend two to three days off work after surgery on each eye.

Most people are able to resume driving a few days after cataract surgery. Individual advice will be given if you are deemed unsuitable to drive whilst awaiting surgery on your second eye.