Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure that is highly successful and virtually painless. When you replace your clouded lens with an artificial one during the procedure, you get restored vision without risking cataracts coming back in the future. It’s important to be mindful of recovery in order to make sure that you don’t have any complications.
Resting after Cataract Surgery
Recovery time when compared to other eye surgeries is much faster. Every person heals differently, but many patients report that they have much better vision within 24 hours of the surgery. You will want to take one to three days off work in order to make sure that you have time to rest. However, it will be normal to start resuming normal activities within just a couple of days. Things such as walking, writing, watching TV, and reading are fine to resume as long as you feel up to it after your surgery. The healing process will continue to run the course and vision changes can happen for the first few weeks before your vision fully stabilizes. The eye will be structurally healed from your surgery within one month, but your eye doctor can determine when your recovery is actually complete.
You should not drive right after your surgery and will need to wait until the next day. Don’t perform any strenuous activity, such as heavy lifting. In order to prevent an infection, you want to stay away from hot tubs and swimming pools. It can be tempting to rub your eye after surgery but do your best not to do so. Also, don’t put on eye makeup and avoid any lotions or face cream close to the eye. In order to prevent irritation, avoid settings with high amounts of dirt, pollen, wind, or dust. It’s important to wear sunglasses on any bright days and this may need to continue for a year after your procedure.
In the days right after the procedure, it can be normal to have inflammation and mild swelling and this can give you distorted, wavy, or hazy vision. Your eye doctor will give you medicated eye drops to help you reduce inflammation and prevent infection. Even if you feel like your eyes have fully recovered and aren’t experiencing any complications, you still need to follow recovery directions from your doctor, and this includes continuing the use of eye drops.
Typical Recovery Time for Cataract Surgery
The adaptation period where you see distorted vision may only last an hour or two. You may also have bloodshot or red eyes, and this is due to some temporary damage of the blood vessels during the surgery. As the eye heals, redness does too within the first several days.
You will have a follow-up appointment with your eye surgeon the day after your surgery in order to make sure that you don’t have any complications. Sometimes people report scratchiness or dry eyes after surgery. This is why we often address Dry Eye disease prior to eye surgery, to eliminate this from happening as much as possible. These sensations stop as your eye heals. If you had problems with dry eyes before surgery, you may have these issues after. How soon you can return to work will depend on your job and if you need to have new glasses once your vision adjusts. You may still need glasses at least for a period of time after the surgery. Your eye doctor will let you know when your eye heals enough for your final prescription.
If both eyes have cataracts, then your surgeon will schedule your second surgery after the first eye has healed properly.
Sleeping after Cataract Surgery
After your surgery, you will be given a protective shield for the eye that needs to be worn during your sleep, even when you nap, for a week after the surgery. This will help you avoid rubbing the eye and causing any sort of accidental injury while it is still in recovery. Aside from wearing this eye shield for a short period of time, you don’t have to make any other changes to your sleep. If you tend to sleep on your side, then you may find that it is more comfortable for you to sleep on the side where you didn’t have the surgery in order to avoid pressure on the eye as it heals. If discomfort or eye pain is affecting sleep then you should discuss with your surgeon to find the cause and a solution.
Washing Your Face and Hygiene after Cataract Surgery
Your surgery doesn’t come at the expense of your hygiene, but you need to be careful about exposing the eye to direct water for a week. You can resume activities such as washing your face the day after surgery, as long as you are careful to not touch the eye. You shouldn’t splash water directly on your face and instead, use a washcloth to carefully clean. The surgery incisions should heal within just a few days, but you should still be careful about not getting water in the eye during this recovery period. Have your eyes closed while washing your face and avoid rubbing your eye. Avoid getting any shampoo or soap into your eye.
Diet after Cataract Surgery
When your eye is healing after the procedure, your diet should be one that is also beneficial to your overall health. You want to include healthy foods, lean protein, and leafy green vegetables. Foods you should avoid are ones that are already associated with bad eye health and this includes foods high in refined carbs or sugars. These foods spike blood glucose levels and can lead to blood vessels in the eye being damaged. This will slow down your recovery time after surgery. Avoid processed foods and foods that are considered junk food.
Advances in Cataract Surgery
The advances in cataract surgery are making the procedure even more successful and healing time even faster. One new piece of technology is intraoperative wavefront aberrometry. When the cataract is removed, a small device attached to the microscope measures the total refractive error of the eye. This will allow the eye surgeon to make sure that he or she is implanting the right lens power for the eye and helps increase the chances of hitting the target. This is even more important for those who have had laser vision correction, such as PRK or LASIK, where typical preoperative measurements aren’t as accurate. New lenses are being reviewed by the FDA to allow those with an astigmatism to become potential candidates for different multifocal lenses. It may even be possible that eye drops can be used to reverse cataracts without needing surgery. There have been two recent animal studies that show that this could be possible and change the way that humans deal with cataracts.
Use of Eye Drops
It’s important to use eye drops as instructed by your eye surgeon as these instructions will provided in detail before your procedure. Generally speaking you should start the drops the morning after the surgery, only use them on the eye operated on, wash your hands before using, and don’t stop unless you have been advised by your doctor. In order to apply your eye drops, tilt your head back and gently pull down the lower eyelids. Squeeze the bottle until one drop goes into the eye, close the eye, and then wipe away excess liquid. Don’t let the bottle touch your eye. When you have finished your course of eye drop treatment, you want to safely dispose of the drops.
Visit Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute
Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute has been the premiere surgery and eye care center in Florida since 1981. For more information on cataract surgery and vision care, contact us for an appointment.