As cataracts are found to be a natural part of ageing, cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in the Western world. While cataract surgery procedures are considered to be highly safe and effective, as with any medical operation, there is always a risk of a complication or adverse event. Some of these events may be entirely out of the control of both yourself and the eye surgeon.
However, during the cataract surgery recovery period, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of an adverse complication. Keep reading to learn about how you can make your recovery from cataract surgery as stress and complication-free as possible.
Tips to Optimise Your Recovery from Cataract Surgery
After your cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will talk you through his or her preferred post-operative instructions, as well as what red flag symptoms to be aware of. Always follow your ophthalmologist’s directions.
These are some general tips on how to make your cataract surgery recovery as uneventful as possible, and minimise any risks.
Use your prescription eye drops as directed.
After your cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will give you a prescription for an antibiotic eye drop and one or two anti-inflammatory drops. Instil these drops as you’ve been prescribed them, whether it’s four times a day or twice a day, and for as long as you’ve been directed. Typically, your ophthalmologist may tell you to use the drops until the bottle runs empty, or for 4 weeks.
If you’re having difficulties instilling the medications and more drops miss your eye than get in, talk to your ophthalmologist about how to overcome this. You may need to ask a family member to help you instil them or use a device that makes it easier to get them into your eye. Similarly, if you think you’re having a reaction to any of the medications, such as they make your eye red or irritated, talk to your ophthalmologist about any possible alternatives. Don’t cease the medications on your own accord.
Protect your eye from foreign particles and accidental trauma.
Your eye is in a vulnerable state during the cataract surgery recovery period. As it heals, it is more prone to opportunistic bacterial or parasitic infections, as well as more fragile to injury from physical trauma. Take care to avoid situations that put your eye at risk of catching any foreign material in it, such as going outdoors on a windy day, or entering dirty or dusty environments, including the attic of your home or a construction site. Foreign substances can also include cosmetics, cleansers, moisturisers, shampoos, and soaps. Try to avoid any of these around your eye area. Another source of potential infection is unsterile water. Although these may not be the first things that come to mind, you may want to stay away from the beach, pools, spas and saunas, and hot tubs during your recovery from cataract surgery.
It is important that you take a break from any hobbies or activities that may result in your eye accidentally getting bumped or poked. Such activities include gardening, contact sports, and even rough play with your pets or children.
After your cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will place a protective eye shield over your operated eye. He or she may instruct you to wear it for the first 24 hours and then overnight as you sleep for the following week or two to keep you from accidentally rubbing your eye.
Let your body rest and recover.
Although your vision may be feeling bright and clear soon after your cataract surgery, your body is still recovering from a medical operation. Take a break and let yourself rest.
Avoid strenuous activities, which include vigorous house chores and even carrying shopping bags. There are some actions that have the potential to raise the pressure inside the eye, such as bending over or forceful coughing. If you can, try to avoid these movements as your eye is healing.
If you don’t feel comfortable driving, let someone else drive you to any necessary appointments, or use a taxi service. While your vision may feel reasonably clear not long into your recovery from cataract surgery, it still needs to be checked to ensure you meet the driving vision requirements in your state before you get back behind the wheel.
Attend your review appointments.
You will be scheduled a few follow-up appointments during your cataract surgery recovery period to ensure your eye is healing as anticipated. Often these will take place a day or two after your cataract surgery, one week after that, and about a month after that. If at any point in between your appointments you feel your eye or vision is not quite right, contact your ophthalmologist or local optometrist without delay. Red flag symptoms you should look out for include:
- Increasing pain or redness of your eye
- Deteriorating vision or any sudden loss of sight
- Increasing glare sensitivity
- Any discharge from the eye
- Seeing any flashing lights or floating spots or lines
These are not typically part of the normal healing process after routine cataract surgery and should be followed up immediately.
Call us today on (03) 9070 3580.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.