Cataract Direct Referral

This service is designed to make the process of being referred for cataract surgery simpler and more patient focused. All Opticians’ practicing in Norfolk & Waveney are part of this scheme. The system will work slightly differently from that described below in the Eastern part of the county and the Waveney Area, where your local optometrist will explain more at the time of referral.

Following an eye examination, the optometrist may conclude that spectacles will not meet the needs of the patient and go on to advise cataract surgery; at this point the patient will be offered referral to a specialist ophthalmologist. If the patient agrees to proceed the optometrist will hand them a booklet and A4 sheet. The booklet, "Cataracts", gives a description of cataracts and an overview of the surgery involved in removing and replacing them with an implanted plastic lens. The second sheet, "How to Book Your Appointment" lists all of the centres in Norfolk & Waveney where cataract surgery is performed. The patient is advised to take the information home, read it thoroughly,  then make a decision about which centre he/she would like to be referred to.

The optometrist sends a report of the findings from the eye examination and the patient's contact details to the Referral Centre. On receiving the report the Referral Centre staff  telephone the patient to ask which cataract centre has been chosen and to arrange an appointment for the pre-operative assessment. Following the pre-operative assessment the patient will be offered a date for surgery, if it is still considered to be appropriate.

After the operation one of the ophthalmology team at the cataract centre will either:

  • arrange a post operative assessment with the ophthalmology team;
  • invite the patient to choose an accredited community optometrist to provide the final post operative assessment. 
    For patients whose surgery went well and are at low risk of complications, this final assessment can be conducted by an Accredited Community Optometrist. This saves another trip to the hospital and may be combined with a sight test to determine if new spectacles are appropriate. The Optometrists providing this service have undergone further training and accreditation.

Distance vision is much improved by the operation and may not need spectacle correction but new spectacles will be required for reading and near vision. However, many patients choose to continue wearing varifocal or bifocal lenses because they are familiar with them and find them more convenient than having just reading spectacles