Using this guide What's covered

Here you’ll find the answers to many of your questions about cataract surgery. Learn how it works, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.

To see how the surgery is done, view our animation below. For personal insights, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, surgery and recovery.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for cataract surgery and learn how your choice of doctor and hospital affect that cost.

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Learn about cataract surgery

This short animation shows how cataracts form, and how the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one.

The basics

What are cataracts?

The lens of your eye is normally a clear, disc-shaped structure behind the coloured part of your eye (the iris). It focuses light onto your retina, which lines the inside of your eye and sends signals to your brain.

As you age, the lens of your eye may become cloudy. This clouding is called a cataract. Cataracts can also form because of:

  • trauma
  • inflammation in your eye
  • diabetes
  • prolonged use of anti-inflammatory steroid medications
  • exposure to radiation.

Smoking and exposure to sunlight also increase your risk of cataracts.

Some babies are born with cataracts due to underlying genetic diseases or metabolic conditions. If you suspect your baby has a cataract, make an urgent appointment with your general practitioner, optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Warning signs

With cataracts your vision may become foggy or blurry. You may also experience:

  • fading of colours
  • reduced contrast
  • poor night vision
  • the need for brighter light for reading or close work, such as sewing
  • double vision in a single eye
  • sensitivity to bright sunlight or headlight glare at night
  • frequent prescription changes for glasses or contact lenses.

Sometimes cataracts may improve your near vision, but only temporarily. Cataracts can occur in both eyes or affect one eye before the other. They usually develop slowly over months to years and are painless. Regular eye examinations can detect cataracts as well as other eye conditions that may have similar symptoms.

If you have any sudden change in your vision make an urgent appointment with your general practitioner, optometrist or ophthalmologist.

The details

Preparing for surgery

Alternatives to cataract surgery

Options that may delay your need for cataract surgery, and when surgery may be recommended. 
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Results vs risks of surgery

The benefits and potential complications of cataract surgery.
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Choosing a specialist

How to find a surgeon who specialises in your procedure.
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Questions for your doctor

What you should be asking before going ahead with cataract surgery.
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Preparing for surgery

What you need to do before surgery.
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Types of surgery

The different approaches to cataract surgery.
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Types of artificial lenses

Choosing the right artificial lens for you.
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Your Surgery

Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of your surgery.
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Your surgery

What happens during the procedure.
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After surgery

Before you leave the hospital.
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Taking precautions and resuming activities.
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Patient experiences

People who’ve had a cataract surgery talk about their preparation, hospital stay and recovery.

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Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.