Cataract surgery is a very common procedure, making how long does it take to recover from cataract surgery a very common question. To understand more about cataract surgery recovery and what you can do to make the post-operative period as smooth as possible, keep reading.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is considered to be a very safe operation with low rates of complications. Depending on your surgeon and type of operation technique, an uneventful cataract operation can take as little as 15 to 20 minutes for each eye. If your cataract surgery went smoothly, and you encounter no bumps or hiccups during your cataract surgery recovery period, most people can expect their vision to be stabilised within 4 to 6 weeks. However, your return to your usual activities may be sooner.
Depending on your vocation, you may feel comfortable returning to work within a few days of your cataract surgery. This will most likely apply to patients who work in more sedentary office jobs. If your occupation involves more intense tasks such as hard labour, heavy lifting, or being exposed to environments with an increased risk of infection or trauma, your ophthalmologist may tell you to take a bit more time off from work.
When asking how long does it take to recover from cataract surgery, many patients are also interested in knowing when they can return to driving. This can depend on a few factors and ideally, you would wait until your sight has been checked by your ophthalmologist or optometrist before getting behind the wheel. Before giving you the all-clear to return to driving, your eye care professional will consider your visual acuity (clarity of vision). If your other eye can achieve good vision, it may not matter if your recently-operated eye is still a bit blurry during the early days of your cataract surgery recovery. For private vehicle licensing in Australia, the minimum visual acuity requirements are stated with the two eyes viewing together (binocular vision).
Typically, your binocular visual acuity is at least as good as your better eye. However, some people may feel unbalanced or disoriented if there is a large difference in sight between the eyes as a result of one having had cataract surgery. Having a large discrepancy in sight can also affect your depth perception, making driving dangerous. If your ophthalmologist anticipated that undergoing cataract surgery on one eye was likely to result in an unacceptably large prescription difference between the eyes, you may have already discussed the possibility of operating on the other side to balance the sight, even if the cataracts are not significant. In this case, it is best to wait until you are comfortable with your sight before getting behind the wheel.
It is not uncommon to experience some degree of discomfort around the eyes immediately after your cataract surgery. In studies conducted about post-operative pain, the researchers acknowledged that the concept of pain is quite subjective, and even experiences like grittiness or dryness of the eyes might be reported by patients as pain. Typically, pain is anticipated to resolve within the week. For more vague symptoms of general ocular discomfort or glare sensitivity, studies have reported they may take some more time to recover, sometimes a matter of months.
Cataract Surgery Recovery Tips
Although there’s no way to 100% guarantee that you’ll run into no issues during your recovery, there are some steps you can take to minimise your risk of an adverse event occurring after removing your cataracts. After your operation, your ophthalmologist will provide you with a list of instructions for the post-operative period. Always follow these specific care instructions; they may vary from specialist to specialist, and may be different depending on your particular circumstances.
Here are some general guidelines for optimising your post-cataract surgery recovery.
- Use your eye drops to the end.
After your cataract procedure, you’ll be prescribed 2 to 3 eyedrop medications. These are usually an antibiotic, a steroid, and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). The antibiotic is used as a preventative measure, to minimise your risk of encountering an infection until you have fully healed. The steroid and NSAID are to help control the inflammation that occurs as a natural response after your surgery. Though it may be tempting to stop the drops as soon as your eye feels better, it’s important to complete the course of medications as prescribed, which is typically for 4 weeks.
- Avoid any contaminants or foreign substances near the eye.
Your eyedrop medications are an exemption, of course. Dirt, dust, and debris are obvious contaminants you want to avoid getting into your eye. However, swimming pools, seawater, spas and saunas, can also be sources of eye infections as the water is unsterile. As your eye is healing, you will also want to keep cosmetics, lotions, soaps, and aerosols away from your eye as much as possible.
- Don’t delay if something doesn’t feel right.
Although it’s anticipated to experience some sort of discomfort around the eyes in the days to weeks following cataract surgery as previously mentioned, you should expect your eye to slowly but continuously improve. If your eye begins to deteriorate in terms of pain, redness, or sight, or start to produce discharge, contact your ophthalmologist immediately.
Call us now on (03) 9070 3580 for a consultation.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
What To Expect During Cataract Surgery Recovery.
Recovery After Cataract Surgery.