Fifty-six sequential patients undergoing cataract surgery using local anaesthesia were invited to complete a questionnaire recording their visual experiences during the surgery. A majority had peribulbar anaesthesia; none had pre- or per-operative sedation. Fifty-four of the patients could see with their eye during the surgery. Two of these patients could perceive only a bright light; the remainder recorded colours (80%), followed by movements (68%), flashes (66%), abstract colour images (55%) and perception of objects (20%). In two-thirds the brightness of the light changed during the course of the operation (most commonly getting brighter) and in one-third the colours perceived changed during the operation. Pictures were drawn by 22 of the patients of their experience during the surgery.