If you’ve just had cataract surgery, you’re now in what’s considered the post-operative period. Your eye surgeon has probably already given you an idea of what to expect as your eye heals, and how long your cataract surgery recovery time is anticipated. As there are a few factors determining your cataract surgery recovery time, speak to your eye surgeon if you have questions specific to your situation.
Factors Affecting Cataract Surgery Recovery Time
For most uncomplicated cataract surgery procedures, full recovery is complete after about 4 to 6 weeks. During this time, if your vision or eye is not healing as rapidly as your friend’s or partner’s when they underwent cataract surgery, don’t be alarmed. Cataract surgery recovery time can be influenced by factors such as:
- Your body’s ability to heal
- How much rest you were able to get during the post-operative recovery period
- Your occupation will affect how soon you’ll be able to return to work
- Whether there were any complications during your cataract surgery
- Your general health
Sometimes luck also plays a part during cataract surgery recovery. Although no one goes looking for an eye infection or knock to the face, accidents do happen. Encountering an infection or trauma while your eye is healing will unsurprisingly set back your recovery time.
Although complete recovery after cataract surgery is typically cited as up to 6 weeks, many people find their vision is quite clear even within several hours of having their operation. If this isn’t you, you can still expect your vision to be sharp within the following week or two. However, your prescription may still be shifting for up to an additional 4 weeks, so your eye surgeon will advise against updating any glasses until your sight has properly stabilised.
Your eye is likely to feel dry, gritty, and irritated immediately after the cataract operation. It will probably also be bloodshot and red over the sclera (whites). These signs and symptoms are expected to settle and fade over the few weeks as your eye recovers.
Many are interested to know when they might return to driving after having cataract surgery. Even if your sight feels perfect the day after your procedure, wait until you’re given the all-clear by your eye surgeon. You may feel that your sight is subjectively much better than compared prior to cataract surgery (and it probably is!). However, you don’t know whether your vision meets the road authority requirements and whether it’s safe to drive until you have a review appointment with your surgeon. Typically, you will have a review exam the day after your operation, a week after, and about a month after that.
If you work an office job then you may be okay to return to the desk within the week. However, those who work in environments that may expose you to debris or contaminants, or the risk of physical trauma to the face, maybe advised to take a longer period of leave. If your vocation has vision requirements, such as an airline pilot or armed forces, this is another consideration as your sight stabilises after cataract surgery.
Tips to Maximise Your Cataract Surgery Recovery
Although neither you nor your surgeon can control absolutely everything that happens during the post-operative healing period, there are some steps you can take to optimise your recovery.
Use all your medications as directed.
Your cataract surgeon will give you one or more prescriptions for medicated eye drops to use during the healing period. The purpose of these drops is to reduce your risk of an eye infection and to help control inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s natural response to surgery, but can also delay healing.
Rest as much as possible.
Putting undue strain on your body can interfere with its healing. Leave any heavy lifting to someone else, including shopping bags, and stay away from the gym for a few weeks. Even house chores such as mopping or vacuuming should be avoided while your eye heals.
Keep your eyes clean.
You will want to avoid any foreign substances or particles getting near your eye as it’s healing. This includes soaps, cosmetics, and lotions. A less commonly identified source of potential infection is water. The water found in swimming pools, saunas, spas, and at the beach is all unsterile. Avoid splashing water in your face or exposing yourself to the steam room until your cataract surgeon advises you that it’s okay.
If something doesn’t feel right with your sight, don’t delay. It is normal to have some redness and soreness in the first few days after your cataract operation. However, you shouldn’t expect any of your symptoms to deteriorate with time, only improve. If you feel that your eye is becoming redder, more painful, or your sight is getting blurrier, contact your cataract surgeon immediately. You should also be wary of any flashing lights in the periphery of your vision, any blacked or greyed out areas of your sight, or seeing any floating specks or lines. If you’re unable to get hold of your cataract surgeon at the time, visit your local optometrist or attend the emergency department of the nearest eye hospital.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Recovery, cataract surgery. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cataract-surgery/recovery/
8 tips to reduce cataract surgery recovery time. https://www.allaboutvision.com/en-au/conditions/cataract-surgery-recovery/