If you’re about to undergo cataract surgery, it’s important to have an understanding of what you should and shouldn’t do during your cataract surgery recovery period. All cataract surgeons send their patients home with some information about best practice aftercare for cataract surgery to ensure you minimise your risks during the healing process.
What to Expect During Cataract Surgery Recovery
Cataract surgery is a day procedure. You can expect to go home the same day after your operation, but cataract surgeons usually advise you to have someone drive you. You may be feeling groggy from the sedation, and your eye will be covered with a protective gauze pad and plastic shield.
Within a few days into cataract surgery recovery, most people find their vision is quite reasonable. However, it can take up to four to six weeks for your sight to stabilise completely as the cornea is still healing and as the intraocular lens implant settles. During these four to six weeks, following your surgeon’s instructions regarding aftercare for cataract surgery is crucial.
For the first week or so after your cataract surgery, it’s normal to experience:
- A red or bloodshot eye
- Blurry sight
- Swelling and puffiness
It is not normal to experience increasing pain or redness, decreasing vision, or pus discharge from the eye during a typical cataract surgery recovery. If you’re noticing any of these symptoms or if anything else doesn’t feel quite right, you should contact your surgeon, local optometrist, or local hospital sooner rather than later. Most cataract surgeons will advise you on where to go after hours if you think your condition is deteriorating.
Aftercare for Cataract Surgery
The instructions for aftercare for cataract surgery from your doctor are designed to give your eye the best chance of healing uneventfully. Following these tips during your cataract surgery recovery reduces your risk of developing an infection or some other complication as your eye is still in a vulnerable state. Here are the common tips for cataract surgery aftercare.
Use your eye drops
Your surgeon will have prescribed you a few topical medications to use during your cataract surgery recovery period. These are typically an antibiotic to prevent opportunistic infections and an anti-inflammatory. Your dosing schedule for these drops can vary over the weeks that you’re using them. For example, for the first week, you may be asked to use the drops four times a day, but the week after, you’re instructed to reduce it to twice a day. These instructions can vary from surgeon to surgeon, and patient to patient, so always follow what you’ve been personally prescribed.
Make sure you wash your hands before and after instilling the drops, or if you have trouble getting them into your eye, ask a friend or family member to help you.
Avoid strenuous and rough activities
This seems obvious, but there may be some high-risk activities you haven’t thought of. Avoiding lifting heavy objects applies to both weights at the gym but also heavy shopping bags, and even children and pets. You obviously don’t want to enter a wrestling match too soon after your cataract surgery, but neither do you want to engage in any rough and tumble with your children or pets. Even some forms of housework can be a risk, such as overly vigorous scrubbing.
You should also avoid being in a position where your head is lower than your heart, as this can increase the pressure in your eye. Any other movements that can temporarily increase the pressure in your head or eye should also be avoided. This can include coughing, sneezing, vomiting, and even straining on the toilet.
Protect the eye from debris and other contaminants
Debris and contaminants can come in all sorts of forms. Dusty areas around the house or in the workplace can pose a risk, as can being outdoors on a gusty day.
However, using cosmetics and lotions or soaps around the face can also be a risk of contamination to your eye as it’s healing.
Unsterile water poses a significant risk to an eye that’s just undergone cataract surgery. For at least the first four weeks, you should avoid swimming, whether in a pool, beach, or lake and avoid saunas and the spa. Even though pools and spas contain treated water, they can still be home to millions of pathogens. For the first week, you should also take care when showering to avoid water on your face. Some cataract surgeons may recommend you avoid washing your hair or ask someone else to help you while you recline.
During your aftercare period post-cataract surgery, you can still use your sight as you normally would, such as in reading and watching TV. It won’t damage or harm your eye, though you may find it becomes tired or dry more quickly than it otherwise would. In regards to driving, it’s best to wait until you’ve had a review with your cataract surgeon to ensure your sight meets the minimum driving standards. Typically, these reviews occur a day or two after the cataract surgery and a week later. You may return to work as soon as a week after your operation depending on your tasks. Wait until your surgeon has given you the all-clear before engaging in anything beyond sedentary jobs.
Call us on (03) 9070 3580 today 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.
Cataract Surgery Recovery: 5 Tips from an Expert.