Although cataract surgery is an extremely safe procedure, a healthy recovery is instrumental in reducing the risk of potential post-operative complications such as infection. Your doctor will provide precise instructions to follow throughout your recovery after cataract surgery. The entire healing process takes approximately six weeks, and you can expect your vision to gradually improve as your eye adjusts to your new lens.
What to Expect During Your Recovery
While cataract surgery can typically be completed in under one hour, the entire recovery takes several weeks. Throughout each phase of healing, there are side effects you can expect and various precautions you should take to protect your ocular health.
Immediately after Surgery
Most cataract surgery patients are able to resume their normal activities within a few days after surgery.
Cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home almost immediately after your treatment. As your vision will be blurry and you may be groggy from sedatives, you will need a trusted friend or family member to escort you. The doctor will provide you with sunglasses to protect your eyes from sunlight on the way home. In order to rest your eyes, it is recommended that you take a nap in the hours after surgery. You should wear an eye patch or protective shield to prevent rubbing or scratching your eyes while you sleep.
The Following Days
After surgery, it will take a few days for your eye or eyes to adjust to the new intraocular lenses. Though each patient will respond differently, you can generally expect:
- Vision: Blurriness or glares in your field of vision are normal during the healing and adjustment period.
- Medication: You will be given antibiotic eye drops, which reduce your risk of infection and inflammation during your recovery.
- Activity: Avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting until your doctor clears you. Most patients are able to resume their normal activities within a few days after surgery.
- Discomfort: Although you may experience itchiness, sensitivity, or mild discomfort in the days following surgery, you should not experience any pain.
- Discharge: Some fluids or tears are common.
Most side effects should subside within a few days.
Weeks and Months after Surgery
The doctor will schedule several follow-up appointments to evaluate the success of your treatment. Your vision should continue to improve in the weeks following your surgery. In most cases, your eyes should be fully healed within six weeks. Depending on the intraocular lens you choose, you may be able to permanently reduce your dependency on glasses or contacts following cataract surgery.
How to Decrease the Risk of Complications
According to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, the procedure boasts a success rate of 98 percent or higher. However, there are measures which you can take to help ensure a healthy healing period and reduced risk of infection and other complications. These include:
- Follow the pre-operative and post-operative instructions provided by your doctor.
- Stop taking medications which can increase bleeding.
- Keep your hands clean and avoid touching your eye after surgery.
- Use medications as prescribed, as infection can lead to vision loss.
- Wear sunglasses to prevent harmful ultraviolet rays from entering your eyes.
- Avoid swimming or other activities which could introduce bacteria into the eye.
- Refrain from using makeup or heavy lotions around the eyes for a few weeks.
Cataract surgery has been known to increase the risk of retinal detachment. This condition can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated, so it is important that you contact your doctor immediately if you notice a sudden, rapid onset of floaters and flashes in your vision.
Learn More about Your Recovery
Over 3 million cataract surgeries are performed each year, and the overwhelming majority are completed with a healthy recovery and no complications. Your doctor will guide you on your path to recovery, ensuring a successful outcome so you enjoy the plentiful benefits of cataract surgery. To learn about your role in the recovery process, schedule a consultation with a doctor today.