Having a cataract operation (easy read)

Easy read fact sheet on what happens at a cataracts operation. 

This is an easy read document

About the operation


Inside your eye is a lens which helps you to see.


Having a cloudy lens is called a cataract.

Cataract replaced by clear lens

A cataract operation is when a cloudy lens in your eye is replaced by a clear lens.​


You need to go to the hospital twice to have your cataract operation.

Check up

The first visit is for a ​check-up.​


The second visit is for the operation a few weeks later.


Most people will go home on the same day after their cataract operation.


You and the people who support you can ask for help. 

Learning Disability Liaison Nurse

Many hospitals have Learning Disability Liaison Nurses.

Eye Clinic Liaison Officers

Some hospitals have Eye Clinic Liaison Officers.​


These people can help you get ready for your operation.​​

Your first check-up at the hospital


​You will be sent a letter telling you the date of your check up at the eye clinic.

Hospital supporter

Go to your check-up with a supporter who knows you well. 


Take your glasses if you have any.

NHS care plan

Take any information about your health and your past eye health.

Eye doctor

​The eye doctor will look at your cataracts.

Blood pressure test

The nurse will check your blood pressure.​


The nurse and the eye doctor will talk to you about your cataract operation.


You and your supporter can ask questions.

Week days

They will tell you the date for the operation which will be in a few weeks’ time.

Getting ready for your operation​

Making a plan

You and your supporters should plan the help you will need.

Reasonable adjustments

You may need help before, during and after your operation.


We have a form called an Eye Surgery Support Plan. 


You can use this form to plan the help you need.


Your plan will also help doctors and nurses understand how you communicate.


​It will tell them any other important information about you.

Eye hospital

Before the operation, you can ask to visit the eye clinic or look at pictures of the eye clinic. 


This will help you to get to know the faces, voices and names of the people you will meet when you have the operation.​

Eye shield

After the operation, you will wear an eye shield.

Covering eye

You can practice having someone cover your eye with an eye patch.

Bright lights

After the operation, your eyes might be sensitive to light.


You might find it very bright. ​

Sunglasses and hat

Practice wearing sunglasses and a sun hat.​

Rubbing eyes

You should try not to touch or rub your eyes. 


You may need a plan to help you stop doing this. 

Your operation​


You need someone who knows you well to go with you on the day of the operation.


At the eye clinic you will meet the nurse.​

Blood pressure

The nurse will check your blood pressure again.

Eye drops

​​Before your operation you will have eye drops.

Happy person

This will make your eye numb. ​

This means you don’t feel any pain.​

Hospital bed

You may be taken to have your operation on a hospital trolley bed.


Some people might have an anaesthetic to make them sleep during the operation.​

Operation theatre

The operation will take place in an operating theatre.

Clear lens

During the operation, the eye doctor will take the cataract out of your eye and put a clear lens in.

30 minutes

The operation will take about 30 minutes. 

After your operation​

Eye shield

After the operation you will have a plastic shield to cover your eye.

A few hours

You will need to stay in the hospital for a few hours.​


This is so the nurses can check you are okay.

A few hours

The feeling will come back to your eye after a few hours.​

Sore eye

After the operation, your eye might feel sore or bruised.

Two days

This feeling will go away in a day or two.


You and your supporters need to follow the advice given by your eye doctor and nurse.

Eye shield

They will tell you when it is okay to take the plastic shield off your eye.

Eye drops

​You will need to have drops in your eyes for a few weeks after the operation. 


You will need to have plans in place for drops to be given to you.

Eye drops

Some people find it hard to take eye drops. 

Eye doctor

You can ask your eye doctor about having a special injection or ointment instead.


You may need to rest for a few days after the operation. ​


You should not swim or do sport.​

Blurred vision

Before the operation, your eyesight may be blurred or unclear. 

Clear vision

You may see things more clearly soon after the operation.


Sometimes it can take longer to notice that things are clearer.

Bright light

Things may also look brighter.​

Sunglasses and hat

​You may need to wear sunglasses or a sun hat for a few days after the operation.

Rubbing eyes

You may need support to stop you rubbing or touching your eyes after your operation.

Eye doctor

You will have a check-up with the eye doctor a few weeks after the operation. ​


You will probably need new glasses after the operation. 

Eye doctor

The eye doctor will tell you when you should go to the opticians.

One eye

If you have cataracts in both eyes you will usually have one eye operated on at a time.

Waiting months

It may be a few months before you have the other eye operated on.


You don’t have to live with cataracts and vision that is not clear.


An operation will help you see more clearly.

Thank you

We would like to thank Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust for helping us to make this factsheet.