How Long Does it Take to Recover from Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery has a high success rate and you should be able to return to normal, everyday activities, such as driving.
However, while some patients are able to see clearly after their cataract surgery, others may take a few days to restore full vision. Occasionally, it may take an entire month for a patient’s vision to improve completely.
What to Do the First Week After Surgery
During the first week following your cataract surgery, it’s advisable to keep your eyes covered at all times – either using an eye shield or eyeglasses. Covering your eyes will protect them from being rubbed or bumped. Keeping your eyes protected following cataract surgery is crucial for optimum recovery as any pressure can easily open the incision in your eye.
You may still have a plastic shield or a pad over your eye while leaving the hospital. In most cases, this can be removed the next day after surgery.
While feeling generally returns within a few hours of surgery, it may take a few days for your vision to be fully restored. After your cataract surgery, you may experience:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Watering of the eye
- Grittiness in the eye
- Bloodshot or red eye
These side effects are normal and often improve within a few days of surgery. However, in some cases, it can take up to 4 to 6 weeks to completely recover from surgery. You won’t be able to order new glasses if you need them, until your eyes have fully healed, which may take up to 6 weeks.
What Not to Do After Cataract Surgery
Following cataract surgery, patients are generally recommended to avoid:
- Rubbing the eye
- Allowing soap, shampoo or any other detergent from getting into the eye
- Driving until your doctor gives you an all-clear
- Bending the head below the waist
- Performing any vigorous exercise or housework, such as lifting more than 10 pounds
- Straining (for example, on the toilet)
- Wearing eye makeup for at least 4 weeks following surgery
- Flying without consulting your doctor
- Swimming for at least 4 to 6 weeks
The above activities can increase the pressure inside the eye and increase the risk of opening an incision.
What to Do After Cataract Surgery
Your surgeon will prescribe antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops that you will have to use for a few weeks following surgery to control inflammation and prevent infection. Make sure you wash your hands before using eye drops and only use them on the operated eye. Do not discontinue using eye drops without advice from your doctor.
For maximum recovery, follow these steps:
- Use eye drops as instructed by your doctor
- Use painkillers, when needed
- Use an eye shield at night for one week at least, or as instructed by your surgeon
- Take it easy for the first 2-3 days following surgery
- Use your glasses, sunglasses or eye shield when you’re outdoors
- Wear your eye shield while showering or washing your hair
- Shower or bathe as usual
- Watch TV, use a computer and read, as usual
For the first 2 weeks, you may have to clean the operated eye twice daily as the eye drops and the recovery process can result in a slight stickiness of the eye.
When to Seek Medical Help
Seek help from your eye surgery department as soon as possible if you experience any of the following:
- Decreased vision
- Increased stickiness in the eye
- Increased redness and/or pain in the eye
Your doctor will advise you further about the use of eye drops during your follow up appointment, which usually takes place 1 to 4 weeks after surgery. During this appointment, your doctor may give you advice on when you should stop using eye drops and when you can order new glasses.