Everything we should think about the day before the operation.
We normally ask a lot of questions about what will happen on the day of the operation. This is logical. However, we should also be aware that our actions on days prior to the operation are also important as these will affect our well-being and the outcome of the surgery.
The days prior to the operation
It is important to be in tip-top physical and mental condition prior to any operation. We therefore recommend reducing your workload on days prior to the operation (if this is possible) as this will reduce work-related concerns. You should also pay particular attention to resting prior to surgery. It is therefore recommended that you sleep a minimum of 8 hours a day and avoid alcoholic beverages and overeating. You should also pay special attention to your body and see your family doctor if any chronic disease gets worse: shortness of breath, chest pain, etc.
It is also a good time to plan your return home and the first few days of postoperative care. Any patient who is seen as an outpatient (discharged on the same day as the surgery) must be taken home by an adult who is able to help if the patient feels dizzy or unwell. It is recommended that someone should stay with you for at least 24 hours or until the first check-up with the ophthalmologist.
Prepare a folder with any paperwork you may need. You should bring the chronic medication sheet with you along with any instructions you have received regarding a modification or change in medication [e.g. changing from Sintrom (acenocoumarol) to heparin].
The day of the operation
You must fast before coming to the clinic. This means that you can have a light meal 6 hours before surgery and drink water up to 2 hours before the operation. If you do not follow this fasting rule, there is a greater possibility of vomiting during and after the operation, increasing both the risk and discomfort associated with the procedure. Your last meal should be light and small.
Other important recommendations are:
- Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to put on. When you get dressed, you will still be recovering from sedation and you will probably have one eye covered.
- Do not wear any type of jewellery: rings, bracelets, earrings or necklaces.
- Do not wear any type of make-up, especially nail varnish, as this makes it hard to monitor your blood oxygen levels.
- Inform the nursing staff if you use a hearing aid or false teeth.
Why do I have to fast before my eye operation?
For safety reasons. It is necessary to fast for 6 hours before any surgical procedure if you have had a light meal. If you do not follow this advice, there is an increased risk of nausea and vomiting during the operation and during the postoperative period.
Will I go directly to the ophthalmic operating theatre?
No. First you will go to the Pre-op area where we will ask you a few questions. We will confirm that you have fasted, any allergies you may have and other aspects of the operative period. You will then be able to ask any last-minute questions you may have before surgery. We will then insert a cannula into the back of your hand or your forearm so you will feel a slight prick. We will then give you a sedative so that you feel calm and relaxed.
How will anaesthesia be given for the eye surgery?
Most operations are done under local anaesthetic, either using a topical anaesthetic (anaesthetic drops in the affected eye) or a local anaesthetic block (injection of the anaesthetic into an area around the eye). The sedation given beforehand prevents pain or discomfort while administering the block. The anaesthetised area will be numb with no feeling.
Will I know what's going on? Will I feel unwell during the eye surgery?
The sedation and lack of pain will help you get through the surgery calmly. It is better if you stay awake so you can work with the attending team, if necessary.
Will I be able to see anything through my eye during the operation?
This varies. During operations with local anaesthetic block, the optic nerve also tends to be affected by the anaesthetic drug with no sight or with only the perception of lights or shadows while the effect lasts. During operations with topical anaesthetic, the eye sees the optical systems of our surgical microscope, although in a very exaggerated way due to the glare of the light from the microscope. During other operations where the eye itself is not operated on, such as oculoplastic and cosmetic surgery, the feeling is minimal because the actual eye is not touched.
Will the eye surgery hurt while the surgeon is operating on me?
No. You may sometimes feel pressure or touch. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, the anaesthesia team will give you a painkiller to take away that feeling. You should never feel any pain. If you begin to feel pain, the anaesthesiologist will give you top-up treatment, both in the anaesthetised area and with the aid of sedation.