After any surgical procedure, there will be a list of guidelines to follow in the post-operative period. The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure you minimise your risk of complications and increase your likelihood of a smooth recovery. Cataract surgery is no different. What you do after your cataract surgery procedure is just as important as what you don’t do. Keep reading to find out what not to do after cataract surgery in order to boost your chances of an uncomplicated cataract surgery recovery.
What Does Cataract Surgery Involve?
At the moment, cataract surgery is the only definitive treatment for cataracts. Cataracts are a haze or opacity in the crystalline lens of the eye. This cloudiness of the lens gets in the way of light entering the eye, resulting in deterioration of the quality of your vision.
Cataract surgery is considered to be a safe and effective procedure. It aims to remove, or extract, the cloudy lens from your eye, and replace it with a clear artificial implant, known as an intraocular lens. As this intraocular lens can often be calculated to correct your eye’s prescription, many people are less dependent on their glasses or contact lenses after a cataract operation.
Under local or topical anaesthetic, the cataract surgeon creates an incision in the front surface of the eye known as the cornea. Through this incision, other instruments are inserted into the eye to reach the cataract sitting behind the coloured iris. The membrane envelope holding the crystalline lens is gently torn open, and a probe is used to apply ultrasonic energy to break up the lens into small pieces. These fragments are removed from the eye, and the intraocular lens can then be inserted into the membrane envelope.
After your cataract surgery, your surgeon will give you a list of post-operative guidelines to help you understand what to do, but also what not to do after cataract surgery. Following these will help you to get through your cataract surgery recovery period.
What Not to Do After Cataract Surgery?
While your surgeon may have given you slightly different specific instructions, most cataract surgery recovery guidelines follow the same general vein. If ever you’re in doubt with any part of what not to do after cataract surgery, check with your surgeon.
Don’t strain yourself too early
After any operation, you will want to take it easy. Cataract surgery is no different. Though you may not think much could affect the eye, it’s still advisable to avoid any strenuous activities. Increased pressure through lifting heavy objects, intense exercise, or even coughing fits, could injure your eye in its vulnerable state as it heals. Instead, take a break from weights at the gym and from doing intensive house chores.
Don’t drive until your vision has been checked
As early as 24 hours after your cataract operation, you may feel that your vision is clear enough to drive. However, it’s a good idea to wait until you’ve been reviewed by your surgeon to confirm that you meet the driving requirements in your state. The first review appointment is often only a day or two after your operation.
Don’t stop your prescribed eyedrops earlier than advised
Depending on your surgeon and the state of your eyes after your cataract operation, you may be given a few prescription eyedrops. These can include antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Your dosing regimen may last for as long as 4 weeks, or even longer if your eye continues to be at risk of inflammation or infection. It’s important to stick to the eyedrops as has been prescribed, even if your eye feels back to normal. Ceasing your medications too early can make your eye open to the risk of infection or prolonged inflammation.
Don’t expose your eye to contamination or risk of injury
As your eye is still healing after cataract surgery, keep it protected. On the day of your procedure, you’ll be sent home with a protective eye shield. You may be advised to wear this during the day for the following day or two and then only at night when you sleep. In addition to this, you should avoid getting anything in your eye. The obvious contaminants are dirt and dust, but you should also try to keep soaps, lotions, and cosmetics away from your eye while it’s recovering. If you work in an environment where you’re surrounded by dust and debris, you may need to take more time off work.
Don’t update your glasses or contacts until given the all-clear
It can take 4 to 6 weeks for your sight to fully stabilise after cataract surgery. Spending money on new spectacles or contact lenses before this time could result in you ending up with a slightly incorrect script once your eyes have settled. Your cataract surgeon will let you know when it’s okay to update your glasses.
Don’t delay if something doesn’t feel right
Any instances of increasing redness, blurring or visual disturbances, increasing pain, or discharge from the eye should be addressed immediately. If you’re unable to get hold of your cataract surgeon, see a local optometrist or the emergency department of a hospital. Though you follow every post-op instruction to the letter, complications may still occur.
Call us on (03) 9070 5753 for a consultation.
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