Community Eyecare

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Frequently asked questions

Community Eyecare want to make your experience as easy, friendly and accessible as possible. It is not uncommon for patients to have questions about the day you come in for consultation or for surgery. We hope that the questions and answers below go some way towards helping you find the answers to some of the questions before and after the visit to one of Community Eyecare Centres.

General questions

Will I have my eyes dilated on the day of consultation?

It is difficult to know and it is really up to the person undertaking the tests or consultations whether they need to dilate your eyes to complete the examination. If you do have drops, your vision will likely be blurred for 4-6 hours. We recommend that you do not drive personally and make alternative arrangements for the attendance.

How long will my appointment be?

Again, this is difficult to define. Ordinarily the appointment is 10-15 minutes, but will depend on the complexity of the condition and other emergencies that maybe arriving on the day. However, what we can say is that 98% of patients are seen within 15 minutes of their appointment time.

How do I get a follow up appointment?

You don’t have to do anything at the time of the initial appointment, unless the clinical staff feel it is urgent. Generally, if you require a follow up appointment, our helpful booking staff will call you to arrange a convenient time closer to the time of your appointment.

When can I return to routine daily activities?

If you have undergone a simple outpatient appointment and had dilated drops, depending on your job, most people can go back to daily routine if safe. If you have undergone a minor operation or laser, you should be able to go back to normal activities the next day. If you have had cataract surgery, we recommend you wait for healing to happen and this is usually 2 weeks, but please see below for more details.

Can you drive after having eye drops?

We are sure you agree, your safety and that of other people is our top priority. In fact, there is no hard and fast rules on this from DVLA. The important point is that you ensure your vision fits the driving criteria. The majority of patients have vision impaired after dilating drops and therefore we recommend you do not drive until your vision reaches the legal criteria. For more information, please visit the DVLA website Click here

What do I do if I have run out of eyedrops?

Generally, Community Eyecare will provide eyedrops that last 28 days. We do understand that eyedrops can be difficult to instil and sometimes too much is squeezed out. If you run out sooner then please contact your GP who will be able to re-prescribe.

How do I put eyedrops in my eyes?

We recognise that eyedrops are difficult to instil. Unfortunately, the bottles are manufactured to ensure the drops stay sterile and have a reasonable robust resistance to damage. Below would be a guide to how drops can be instilled. If you still have difficulty you may wish to ask your pharmacist for a dropper aid.

Questions regarding Minor Eyelid Operations

What should I bring with me?

Any eye drops and medication that you are taking, your glasses and reading material. Please wear a front fastening shirt or blouse as you will remain clothed for the operation.

What happens before my operation?

You may eat and drink a light breakfast if attending in the morning or a light lunch if attending in the afternoon before your operation and take your usual medication. You will be given a local anaesthetic injection around the eye by the doctor. This numbs the area. Local anaesthetic eye drops may also be put into your eye.

Are there any risks with this operation?

There are some risks/complications as with all surgery. Serious risks are rare, but infection, allergies, bruising, recurrence of lesions and scar formations are possible.

What happens during my operation?

A nurse will help you relax on a bed and apply anaesthetic eyedrops. The doctor will provide a small local anaesthetic injection which may sting for a few seconds, after which the area will be numb. The procedure will likely be very quick. You will likely require an eyepad for about 30 minutes to soak up any blood stained tears.

What happens when I return from theatre?

You will be given some antibiotic ointment, an eyepad applied and then discharged.

What happens when I go home?

You will be allowed home approximately after half an hour. You may have some stitches. These are dissolvable and take upto 6 weeks to dissolve. You may have a pad or bandage which can usually be removed within 2 hours of your operation. Your eye pad may be slightly blood stained: this is nothing to worry about You will be given eye ointment to be used several times a day, which will be labelled for you. This will be discussed on an individual basis. The staff will explain how to use it. It may be helpful if you get a friend or relative to help you. If, however, you have any difficulties with the ointment, please let the staff know. If you have some discomfort when the local anaesthetic wears off, take your usual pain relief tablet. Your eyelid may be swollen and bruised – this will eventually settle. If your operated eye waters, wipe it away from below the cheek – you MUST NOT rub the eye.

When can I drive again?

It is usual that you can drive the next day as long as your vision reaches the legal criteria as stated by DVLA

When can I go on holiday?

Generally, you should be able to go on holiday the next day, but please let your insurer know you have had a minor eyelid operation in any case.

Questions regarding YAG laser treatment

What is Posterior Capsular Opacification?

When you undergo cataract surgery, the new lens is placed carefully in the ‘bag’ that held the old natural lens in place. In about 1 in 10 patients, this ‘bag’ begins to scar to a degree that the ‘bag’ becomes cloudy and makes seeing difficult and misty. It’s a bit like when you cut yourself, a scar forms. The ‘Posterior Capsular Opacification’ is essentially scar formation.

What is the purpose of YAG laser treatment?

The purpose of a laser treatment (capsulotomy) is to create an opening in the cloudy membrane in order to restore vision. This provides a clear passage for

What happens before the day of treatment?

You will have received the information leaflet on YAG laser treatment which you should read. You will also have eyedrops sent to you to instill in the eye to have the laser a minimum of 30 minutes before you arrive.

What happens on the day of treatment?

This is nothing like your cataract operation, but more like a consultation. You will be in and out without realising anything has been done! The nurse will check you vision and answer any questions, who will then hand you over to the clinician. Before agreeing to undergo laser treatment you will need to sign a consent form signifying that you understand the risks and benefits of the procedure. We encourage you to ask any questions which may arise before signing the consent form.

What are the intended benefits of the laser?

In essence, the goal of laser is to improve your vision back to the level it was after you had the cataract removed. If you suffer other eye problems, the vision may not improve as much as we would like.

What are the risks of laser treatment?

As with any procedure, laser treatment has risks. An improvement in eyesight cannot be guaranteed. Serious complications are however rare but include:
  • Retinal detachment – the retina, which is the inner lining of the eye, can become detached. If untreated, this can lead to reduced or complete loss of eyesight, but if detected early it can usually be successfully treated. This happens in 1 to 2 in 100 patients
  • Macular oedema – the retina can become swollen causing blurring of vision. This can be treated medically but may take several weeks to improve. The chance of macular oedema after laser capsulotomy is 1-2%, but may be higher in diabetic patients.
  • Worsening of glaucoma or causing glaucoma (raised pressure) in the eye. This usually can be medically treated and has an incidence of 1.5% after capsulotomy.
  • Rarely the lens may be damaged by the laser causing visual problems. In exceptional circumstances, the lens may subsequently need to be changed.
  • Very rarely, additional medical or laser treatment may be needed after the procedure to obtain the best vision.

How is the procedure carried out?

  • Your vision will be checked, so please bring your glasses with you.
  • Drops to dilate your pupil will be put into one or both eyes, which will blur your vision for several hours.
  • You will not be able to drive home after the drops, so please bring a companion or make suitable transport arrangements
  • The procedure is performed with the laser machine connected to a normal slitlamp (microscope).
  • A contact lens is placed on the eye to focus the laser beam and keep the eye open.
  • The procedure lasts approximately 5-10 minutes, during which time you will hear beeping noises and experience bright lights.
  • There is minimal discomfort, if any.

What happens after the YAG laser and when can I drive again?

  • Your vision will be blurred after the treatment, but should improve over the following few hours.
  • If you experience a sudden shower of floaters, flashes of light in the eye, or the feeling of a curtain coming over your vision, you should contact the Community Eyecare on the number provided as this may indicate a retinal detachment
  • You should also contact the eye unit if you experience severe pain or loss of vision after the laser treatment.
  • Certain patients will require follow-up appointments in the outpatient clinic. Before you leave, the laser operator will advise you whether another appointment is needed.
  • You may resume driving the following day
  • You may visit the optician a week after the treatment to check if your glasses need changing.

Questions regarding Cataract Surgery

What is a cataract?

A cataract is when the natural lens within your eyes becomes cloudy and limits your vision. Often they are there and you may not know that they are present until your optician tells you.

Why have I developed cataracts?

Often this is due to aging and nothing more. However, other causes may include:
  • A family history of cataracts
  • Use of medications, such as steroids
  • Injuries to the eye

Are my family at risk of cataracts?

Yes, cataracts can run in families but unfortunately there isn’t any treatment to prevent them from happening just yet, so we wait until they affect your sight and then remove them through an operation.

How do I treat cataracts?

The only effective treatment for cataracts is an operation. The operation is generally undertaken under local anaesthetic so you are awake. However, the operation is generally quick and fairly straightforward, although complications can occur that impair your vision life-long.

What happens at the preassessment appointment?

Don’t worry, Community Eyecare are there to ensure we meet your expectations and answer any questions so you are at ease before the operation. At the preassessment you will initially be greeted by our friendly reception staff. They will provide you with an information booklet which you can read whilst waiting for the nurse. Once the nurse calls you into their room, they will go through some medical history questions with you and measure your eyes for the lens we will use to replace your nature lens. Following dilating drops, a clinician will see you and assess your eyes again. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions at this stage before signing the consent form. Don’t worry, we are all here to help and signing a consent form does not mean you have to have the operation. Its just a record of the discussions you have had and confirmation of the eye that is having the operation.

How long do I wait for a date for the operation?

Usually, a date for surgery is provided at the time of the preassessment and is usually within 10 days.

Do I have one eye done first or both together?

We pretty much always do one eye first. The eye chosen depends on the discussions with you and the preassessment clinician. Generally, it will be your worst seeing eye, but it also depends on other medical conditions that affect your eyes.

Can you tell me about the cataract operation and what happens?

On the day of surgery expect a 2-3 visit, sometimes longer. You will again be greeted by our reassuring receptionists. An admission nurse will then go through your assessment again to ensure nothing has changed. Remember to take your normal tablets on the day and if you are on warfarin, bring your yellow book with you. The nurse will then put a small white tablet in your lower eyelid after confirming the eye you are having operated. They will place a wristband on your arm. The dilating tablet takes 30-45 minutes to work. Once you are ready, a nurse will take you into the anaesthetic room where they will check your details and then place some anaesthetic drops in the eye to numb the eye before the operation. When you are ready, you are taken into the operating room where everyone will introduce themselves. We will lay you flat (as much as possible) and then clean around the eye. Please do not wear any face or eye makeup on the day. You will then have a cover over you with oxygen below this. After looking at the bright light for 10-15 minutes the operation will be finished.

What happens after the operation?

After the operation, a plastic shield covers the eye and stays in place for the first 24 hours and then at night for 2 weeks. The discharging nurse will give you a nice hot cup of tea and a biscuit while they talk you through the instructions after the operation. They will give you drops to take with appropriate instructions.

When can I drive or go on holiday after the operation?

We usually say not to drive until you fit the driving criteria, but generally this is after you have seen your optician after 2-3 weeks. You can go on holiday after about 14 days.

How long until I can wash my face?

We recommend you avoid water in the eye for about 2 weeks. You can wash your face, but use a wet cloth and avoid the eye area. After 2 weeks, you will be back to normal with great vision.

Can I use eyedrops for dry eyes and glaucoma?

Yes, these can be used as well as the new drops you are given. Please use a new bottle and wait for at least 24 hours.

What do I do if I run out of drops?

Please contact your GP for a re-prescription of eye drops if you run out.

How long will my eyes be blurry, light sensitive and gritty?

The blurriness of your vision usually subsides after a few days, so if your vision becomes worse quite suddenly please contact us immediately. Grittiness and light-sensitivity is common and can last upto 6 months in some cases. Its annoying but an innocent finding.

Questions regarding Glaucoma

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions where the eye pressure is too high for your eyes and can cause nerve damage and over a longer-term period visual loss which is irreversible. Don’t worry, glaucoma is generally picked up early by your optometrists and treated by a doctor, so significant visual loss is unusual.

How do we investigate glaucoma?

There are several tests that help us diagnose glaucoma. Even then, the results may not be able to 100% diagnose glaucoma. The core tests are:
  • A visual acuity test.
  • A measure of the thickness of your cornea, called a pachymetry.

After the tests, what happens?

Generally, the eye tests are undertaken by an optician or technician/nurse and these are then available for the doctor to review. You will be informed of the outcome of the tests within the next week or will be seen by the doctor at appointments.

Can I drive to my appointments?

As for any eye appointments we would recommend that you do not drive. It maybe that the doctor decides not to put in dilating drops but we often can’t decide that until the day of the consultation.

How long will I have glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a life long condition and as such you will be treated for monitored for life. This is often not too intrusive other than eyedrops daily and then appointments every 6 to 12 months.

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