Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Can You Have Cataract Surgery if You Can't Lie Flat?

If you need cataract surgery, then you usually have a quick day procedure with a local anaesthetic. However, this usually requires that you're lying flat and still for the duration of the operation. This is a problem for some patients. For example, some people have breathing problems, tremors or back and spinal issues that make lying flat more difficult.

If you think that lying down for the procedure will be a problem for you, you might worry that you can't have the op. However, there are ways around this. What are they?

Delay the Procedure

In some cases, patients have a temporary problem that makes it hard for them to lie flat for cataract surgery. For example, you may have recently had a bad cold that has left you with a cough that gets worse every time you lie down.

Coughing during delicate eye surgery isn't an option. So, in this case, your doctor might recommend that you reschedule the procedure for a bit later. If you wait until you shake the cough off, then lying flat shouldn't be a problem.

Modify the Operating Position

Doctors are used to dealing with patients with medical conditions and mobility or positional problems that affect their ability to lie flat. In some cases, your doctor may be able to remove your cataracts by altering the table that you lie on or its position.

For example, if you have a spinal problem, like a curvature, that prevents you from lying flat, then the team might be able to pad the table in key areas to make it more comfortable for you. With the right support, you can then have the procedure as normal.

Or, if you have a long-term breathing condition, like COPD, then you may benefit from extra oxygen during the procedure to relieve any breathing problems. Your doctor may be able to operate with you in a more raised position so you'll be more sitting up than lying down.

Use a General Anaesthetic

In some cases, patients can't lie flat when they are conscious, or they can't stay still for the required amount of time. For example, if you have tremors or ticks that you can't control, then these could affect the procedure and put you at risk. In these cases, your doctor may recommend that you have a general anaesthetic instead of a local. This mitigates for any risks that your condition may bring.

If you have concerns about your ability to lie flat and still during cataract surgery, talk to your doctor and ask for their advice on ways to manage the problem.