Cataract surgery is the most common eye procedure in the world. As it is typically a fast and straightforward operation, most patients’ cataract surgery recovery also follows a similar course. However, as with any surgery, there is a chance of a complication arising during the cataract surgery recovery period. In order to minimise your risk of problems after cataract surgery, here’s what not to do.
After Cataract Surgery, What Not to Do
If your vision and eye feel back to normal soon after your cataract surgery, it can be tempting to dive straight back into your usual habits and activities. However, there’s a reason there’s a list after you have cataract surgery of what not to do. Failing to follow your ophthalmologist’s post-operative care instructions can result in a prolonged cataract surgery recovery. In the worst case scenario, complications such as an infection can threaten your sight. So, if you’ve just come out of the operating theatre after cataract surgery, here’s what not to do.
Don’t exert yourself
Immediately after any sort of surgery, the doctor’s orders typically include avoiding strenuous activity, and cataract surgery is no different. Physical rest allows the body to heal and can help to support your cataract surgery recovery. Strenuous activities can include carrying heavy grocery bags, intense physical exercise, and even housework. Your ophthalmologist will advise you when it’s okay to return to these activities, which may be as long as a couple of weeks. If your vocation involves hard labour, such as building and construction, you will need to take additional time off work.
Don’t drive until your review with the ophthalmologist
Straight after your cataract surgery you most likely won’t feel up to driving anyway. Your ophthalmologist will have advised you in advance to organise alternative transport home as you may be feeling groggy from the sedation and your eyes will still be affected from the dilating eyedrops. Later in the day or the day after once your head has cleared, it is still advisable to avoid driving until you’ve attended for your review appointment. At this examination the ophthalmologist will ensure your eye is healing as expected and your sight is able to achieve the driving standards.
Don’t stop your eyedrops too soon
Your ophthalmologist will give you a prescription for 2 to 3 medicated drops. These include an antibiotic to protect the eye from opportunistic infections as it heals, and a steroid as well as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) to help control inflammation. Your dosing schedule will involve all three of these drops, multiple times a day, and may change in frequency over the weeks. Typically, you will need to use these medications for about a month. These eyedrops help your eye to heal properly and reduce your risk of complications, such as an infection. For this reason, it’s important to use them to the end, even if you think your eye has recovered before the month is over.
Don’t expose your eye to risk of contamination or injury
Risk of contamination and injury to the eye can come from both obvious and less expected sources. Try to avoid any foreign particles from getting into your eye. This can mean keeping indoors if it’s a dusty, windy day, avoiding from the dust-filled attic, and also staying away from pools, seawater, and hot tubs for at least a week. For the first few days to a week immediately after your cataract surgery, it’s also a good idea to avoid moisturisers, soaps, and cosmetics around your eye. If your hobbies or occupation involve the potential for trauma to the face, your ophthalmologist will also want you to put these activities on hold. Examples of high-risk activities are contact sports, construction work, or the armed forces. If you have small children or pets prone to rough play, it’s advisable to keep your face out of harm’s way as much as possible!
Don’t update your prescription until your ophthalmologist has confirmed your vision is stable
Most people will find their sight has settled after 4 to 6 weeks. During the recovery period as your eye is still healing, you may find your prescription can fluctuate. Trying to measure a prescription during the post-cataract recovery period can be unreliable also because you may be experiencing dry eyes as a temporary side effect of the surgery. Towards the end your expected healing period, you will most likely have a final follow-up consultation with your ophthalmologist.
At this examination, your ophthalmologist will ensure that all has healed as anticipated and if so, you may return to the care of your optometrist for a prescription check.
Don’t delay if your something doesn’t feel right
The red flags in the weeks after your cataract surgery as you’re still recovering, include:
- Deteriorating sight
- Increasing redness or pain of the eye
- The appearance of flashing lights or floating specks
- Unusual headaches or nausea
- Discharge from the eye
- The perception of a black curtain or shadow coming across part of your visual field
These are not expected symptoms after any cataract surgery, and should be attended to immediately. If you’re unable to get in contact with your usual ophthalmologist, you may visit your local optometrist or hospital emergency department.
Call us on (03) 9070 5753 today.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
After Cataract Surgery: A Post-Surgical Guide.
Recovery: Cataract Surgery