What is Cataract Surgery
Cataract is an eye condition which develops when the natural lens (crystalline lens) of the eye begins to lose transparency and gradually becomes opaque. Cataract surgery is a procedure which involves removing that crystalline lens and replacing it with an artificial lens to restore clear vision. The affected lens is usually cloudy or yellowish in colour rather than being transparent. This causes blurred vision, night vision problems, halos and flashes.
What is the recovery time for cataract surgery?
After the artificial lens implanted in the eye in most cases the normal vision starts coming back from the very next day of the surgery. It can take 24 to 48 hours for your distance vision to settle, however your reading vision can take a little longer as the brain can take time to adjust given this field of vision is not used as often as distance, in the longest case scenarios it has taken 6 to 8 weeks.
What is the recovery process for cataract surgery?
There are many factors that can speed up or delay your recovery from cataract surgery. You need to avoid certain things to fasten the recovery time. Here are the details of what should be avoided after cataract surgery to recover faster.
Infection is one of the biggest causes of delayed recovery after cataract surgery. It is important to avoid activities that can lead to an eye problems and infection and can affect cataract surgery recovery, leading to blurry vision for a longer time. Some of the precautions are listed below.
- Do not touch your eyeball
- Make sure that no foreign body enters your eye
- Do not use water to wash your eyes.
- Avoid swimming in pools or bathing in hot tubs
Also, make sure that you follow your doctor’s prescription. Use your antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and hydrating eye drops regularly.
Avoid Dusty Places
You should avoid any place where there is a chance of having dust particles in your eyes. It can irritate your eyes that can lead to blurry vision after cataract surgery for a longer time. Make sure that your house is well-cleaned when you return from the hospital after the surgery. If your work involves going out in fields where there can be dust, take some days off.
Do not Wear Cosmetics
Eye make-up removal is recommended for two days prior to the surgery and for a week after. This includes any type of makeup or facial products, including creams. It is advised that re-tinting eyelashes should also be left for a week after surgery. The foreign particles and debris so close to the eye can increase the chances of infection and inflammation which will cause a delay in cataract surgery recovery.
Avoid Changes in Pressure
Sneezing and coughing increase intraocular pressure i.e. pressure inside the eye. Although today’s cataract surgery wounds are quite secure, this rise in pressure can affect your wound and stitches. This is why it is advisable to get your cough treated before surgery and avoid sneezing.
Traveling by plane can also affect intraocular pressure of the eye, hence why it is recommended to wait 24 hours before taking a short haul fight and one week of a long haul flight (more than 4 hours).
Do not do Strenuous Exercises after your Cataract Surgery
The amount of time advised to refrain from activities is dependent on how strenuous it is, the impact it has on your intraocular pressure, the environment of the activity and whether there is a potential for collision.
- 1 week – Low Impact: Yoga, Pilates, Aerobic exercise and Jogging
- 2 weeks – Medium Impact: Weightlifting, Swimming, Sauna and Steam
- 4 weeks – High Impact: Football, Cricket and Tennis
- 6 weeks – High Risk: Skiing, Snowboarding, Scuba diving, Squash, Rugby and Badminton
These exercises can potentially lead to damaging the wound which will cause a delay in cataract surgery recovery process and prolonged blurry vision.
There are some other precautions that you should generally take after your cataract surgery.
- Do not drive right after your cataract surgery. You will have a blurry vision after cataract surgery and this makes driving dangerous, hence it is advised to be accompanied home by a friend or family member. At your first post operative check, the Medical Director and lead surgeon will inform you of when you can legally drive, this is typically 24 to 48 hours after surgery.
- Do not use the computer for a long period of time after your surgery. It can put a strain on your eyes. So, if your job involves working on a computer for many hours, it is advised that you take a day off after surgery and rest your eyes.
- Wear sunglasses while returning from the clinic and avoid bright lights given they will be sensitive from the drops.
- A protective shield is given to the patient after surgery. You should wear it during sleep to avoid any kind of unintentional trauma or blow to your eye.
What should you Expect after Cataract Surgery?
Following things should not worry you after the surgery.
- Blurry vision right after the surgery is normal
- You may experience dry eye after cataract surgery. It gets better as the eye heals and hydrating drops will be supplied to ease this
- Your sclera might be red or there can be small haemorrhages due to the damage to small blood vessels during surgery. These haemorrhages also resolve on their own
- Your eye may look swollen due to the use of instruments
When Should You See your Doctor?
Generally, a surgeon performs a follow-up examination the next day after surgery to see if everything is fine. However, there are a few warning signs and symptoms that you should look for after your cataract surgery. Contact your doctor on the emergency number provided immediately:
- If you notice any discharge from your eye
- If in excessive pain even after using prescribed painkillers
- If you feel that your vision is getting worse
- If you experience a sudden deterioration in vision
- If you see flashes of light and sudden appearance/increase in floaters
Interested in Cataract Treatment?
To make things easier for patients, our treatments are available on a self-pay basis or could be financed by private health insurance. For a full list of the insurance providers we work with, give our friendly team a call on 0800 652 4878 and you can also request your free information pack or book your consultation to find out how we can help you.