Recovery After Cataract Surgery: What You Need to Know

Cataract surgery is safe, simple and effective. But what happens after cataract surgery? Read on as we give you low down on what you need to know following your cataract surgery.  If you’re planning on having cataract surgery, one thing is certain: it’s a quick, low-risk procedure, with very little room for complications.  The actual cataract surgery itself can take as little as 10-minutes. Immediate post-op recovery is usually around 30-minutes.  Cataract surgery can be completely life-changing for many people, with vision improving drastically after this simple surgery.

However, what’s important to keep in mind is that adequate recovery after cataract surgery is vital.  So, if you’re wondering what to expect post cataract surgery, read it all in this blog.

What To Expect After Cataract Surgery

Generally, recovery from cataract surgery tends to be minimal, but there are still a few important precautions to take.  Without these precautions, your recovery time could only be lengthened, eventually resulting in complications.  The eye is an incredibly delicate organ. This is why it must be treated with utmost care in order to make a full recovery and enjoy the rewards of cataract surgery.  Before your cataract surgery make sure to discuss all aspects of the procedure.  Don’t be shy to ask about possible complications, your surgeon’s experience, and the recovery process.  But for now, here is a simple breakdown of what expected during post cataract surgery:

Immediate Recovery

The removal of cataracts is a short and simple procedure and is performed using a local anesthetic.The surgery is generally carried out on the eye doctor’s premises in an onsite surgical suite.  Once the surgery is complete you will be moved to a recovery suite where a shield will be placed over your eyes to protect against contact or rubbing.  You are generally made to rest in the recovery suite for approximately 30-minutes to allow anesthetic effects to wear off.  During this time, your eye surgeon will pay you a visit. They should discuss the procedure with you, update you on the recovery procedure, and schedule a follow-up appointment.  It’s important to note that you will not be allowed to drive post-surgery – prior arrangements for a lift home must be made before your surgery.

You will also be supplied with dark, protective sunglasses to wear during your drive home and throughout your recovery when outdoors.  Very rarely will you experience any pain immediately post-surgery, however, your eyes may sting or feel scratchy and gritty.

At Home Recovery

Once you have arrived in the comfort of your own home, the original protective shield can be removed. However, this shield must still be worn while sleeping for 4-5 days post-surgery.  Once the shield is removed, you may experience blurred or distorted vision for a few minutes as the artificial lens adapts to the light around you.  This may take a few hours to dissipate, but once the new lens has adapted you should begin to see things far more clearly and vividly.  Most doctors will recommend that you avoid the flashing lights of a television or cell phone for a good few hours post-surgery.  Try and rest for a few hours once you have arrived home, remembering to be kind to your eyes.

Top tip: make sure to collect your doctor’s prescribed eye drops before your surgery takes place. This way, you can go directly home and rest.

Your doctor should update you on the duration and how often to administer the eye drops.

Showering and Cleansing

You are able to have a shower or bath the day after your surgery.  However, it’s recommended that you avoid splashing or drenching your face with water, most especially soap or shampoo, for at least a week post-surgery.  Essentially, your eye is healing an open wound and is highly susceptible to bacteria and infection.  You want to avoid irritating this wound as much as possible in order to stave off unwanted infection.  If you want to wash your hair, you may have to enlist the help of a family member to do so with utmost caution, or visit a local hairdresser.  Use face wipes to properly cleanse your face during this time or a damp facecloth could also do the trick.

Follow-Up Recovery

Your first follow-up appointment during recovery from cataract surgery will generally be the day after.  You will need to pre-organize a lift to and from your surgeon’s offices as you will not be cleared for driving just yet.  During this appointment, your surgeon will review the overnight healing process as well as your prescribed medication to stave off infection.  If you have any lingering concerns, questions or advice, you can discuss this with your surgeon during this follow-up appointment.  If healing is on-track, you will be cleared for driving from the day following your appointment.  Your surgeon may recommend another follow-up appointment in a month’s time, but this can be organized with a general eye doctor.

Ongoing Recovery

You will be able to return to normal, everyday activities within as little as 24-hours post-surgery.However, there are a few important tips to follow during the months of ongoing cataract recovery:

  • Always wear dark, UV-sensitive sunglasses in the first few weeks post-surgery.
  • Avoid overly strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for at least 3-4 weeks.
  • You will not be able to drive until you have been given the all-clear from your surgeon. This is generally 2-3 days.
  • Make sure to closely follow your doctor’s orders with regards to completing your course of antibiotics to avoid infection.
  • Likewise, follow your doctor’s orders with regards to disinfectant eye drops until the course is completed.
  • Make sure your home is kept clean and dust free in the most post-op. Avoid doing the cleaning yourself if possible.
  • Try not to rub, scratch or itch your eye. This is the fastest way to transmit bacteria to the healing wound.
  • Avoid swimming or submerging your head under water for at least a week post-op.
  • Avoid wearing make-up, most especially eye make-up in the first few weeks post-surgery.

Also keep in mind that you may see a glare or halo around bright lights in the first few weeks after your surgery. This is common side-effect which eventually subsides.  With all of the above in mind, there a few negative side-effects to look out for, although they are generally uncommon.  If you experience vision loss, persistent pain, light flashes, multiple spots in front of your eye, nausea or vomiting, make sure to see your doctor right away.

Considering Cataract Surgery?

Tri-State Centers for Sight has been in operation for over 25 years now as true experts in the field of ophthalmology care.  If you suffer from cataracts and you’re wondering what to expect after cataract surgery, our team will guide you through the entire process.  We offer a full-spectrum of ophthalmology and would love to hear from you! Schedule your appointment with us today!