5 Things To Expect During Cataract Surgery Recovery

Did you know that cataract surgery is the most commonly performed medical procedure in the United States? Cataracts will affect almost half of the population by the time they are 75 years old. 

So it isn’t surprising that the one effective treatment for them is so popular. Cataract surgeons perform the procedure on a regular basis. Between the advancements in technology and how often it’s performed, many surgeons consider this a routine procedure. 

Cataract surgery is a safe and effective procedure to have to remove your cataracts and regain the ability to see clearly. But any surgery involves some recovery time, and cataract surgery is no different. 

Since it’s usually performed on older patients, healing time can take a bit longer than a procedure that’s performed on someone who’s younger. But with proper care, recovery can be as quick and painless as possible. 

Not sure what to expect once you have cataract surgery? Keep reading for 5 things to expect during your cataract surgery recovery!

1. Some Discomfort

A man holding his head in distress

In the hours and days after you have cataract surgery, there’s a good chance that your eyes will feel a little irritated. They may feel gritty or itchy and you might feel a strong urge to rub them. 

Don’t give in to this urge!  It’s important to keep your eyes clean and rubbing them will only irritate them further. Worse, it may even damage the delicate incision. 

You should never rub your eyes, but rubbing them after cataract surgery is an especially bad idea. It can be frustrating to have itchy eyes but prescription eye drops should help ease any discomfort. 

You may also be able to take mild painkillers, like acetaminophen, or over-the-counter eye drops. Preservative-free artificial tears can be purchased at most pharmacies. 

These can help relieve pain and itchiness. It’s important to receive approval from your doctor before taking any kind of medication they haven’t prescribed. 

Chances are, they will allow you to take mild painkillers and artificial tears. If you want to combat feelings of discomfort before they occur, use artificial tears and eye drops before your eyes feel irritated.

2. Needing to Take Prescription Eye Drops

A woman applying eye drops

Your eye doctor will prescribe antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops to take in the days and weeks following surgery. These are very important to take. 

This combination will help your eyes heal and prevent infection during the healing process. They will also ease discomfort. 

You will have to take the eye drops several times a day, so you have to be able to keep track of when to take them. Often, doctors will provide a chart you can use to check off each time you take a dose. 

If they don’t, it’s simple to make your own on a piece of paper or by using post-it notes. You can also set reminders and alarms on your phone to make sure you don’t miss a dose. 

Be sure to take all your prescription medication as often as instructed and as long as instructed. Even if your eyes feel like they are fine, don’t stop taking your eye drops unless directed by your doctor.

3. Limit Your Physical Activity

A man and a woman using treadmills next to each other

You’ll have to avoid strenuous activity for at least a week while in recovery from cataract surgery. If you still work, this means you’ll need to take off a week and stay home to recover. 

It also means limiting the number of chores you do around the house. You’ll especially need to limit any chores involving heavy lifting and bending over. 

Heavy lifting and bending over will need to be avoided as much as possible while in recovery from cataract surgery. These activities can actually increase the pressure within the eye.

Limiting yourself to light physical activity ensures that your blood pressure remains low. If it gets too high, it can cause complications. 

Activities like exercise and playing sports also put you at risk for injury. An eye injury, while you’re recovering from cataract surgery, can be very serious. It’s best to remain cautious and do your best to take it easy until you’ve fully recovered.

4. Let Someone Else Drive

A smiling woman posing in the driver's seat of a car

You won’t be able to drive yourself home after cataract surgery, and you won’t be able to drive for at least a few days following surgery. You may see some immediate improvement in your vision right after cataract surgery, but your vision may be blurry while you’re healing. 

Your ophthalmologist will be able to tell you when it’s safe to drive again, but until then, you’ll have to rely on another means of transportation. A ride-share service is always an option, but it’s not ideal. 

If possible, see if you can get a friend or relative to drive you where you need to go. They will also be able to pick up anything that you might need during recovery, including medication. 

5. Lean on Friends and Family 

Two smiling women drinking coffee together

It can be hard to rely on others to take care of you, but you may need to swallow your pride. Getting some help while you’re recovering from surgery will make the healing process smoother. In fact, it may even help you recover faster as well. 

Limiting physical activity can be difficult when you still need to cook and clean. Having someone around the house to help you with chores can give you more time to rest and recover. 

One of the best things you can do after any surgical procedure is to let your body rest. This is the only way your body can heal and get stronger.

You don’t even necessarily need someone to be around all the time. You can have someone just stop by to check on you. 

You can also ask for someone to bring you meals. If you want to reduce the amount of extra help you’ll need after you have cataract surgery, you can always prepare meals and freeze them in advance. 

But having someone who cares about you coming to check in every once in a while isn’t a bad thing. This can ease a lot of the stress of caring for yourself while you’re recovering.

Ready to have cataract surgery? Schedule your cataract screening at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA now!

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