Managing cataracts and performing cataract surgery are exceedingly common for eye care practitioners. Optometrists are often the first to diagnose a cataract during routine eye examinations and are well equipped to monitor their progress. Once you’re ready for cataract surgery, you’ll then be referred to a cataract surgeon. After your operation, your surgeon will give you a list of post operative instructions on what to do after cataract surgery to optimise your recovery. While you may be given slightly different instructions depending on your particular situation, here are the general guidelines.
What to do After Cataract Surgery?
As with any medical operation, cataract surgery carries a small risk of a complication or adverse event. These incidents may happen during the recovery period, even if your cataract surgery itself was smooth and uneventful. To reduce your risk of a complication in the aftercare period, it’s important to follow good eye care and hygiene practices. If at any point you’re unclear about what’s to do after cataract surgery and what’s not okay, talk to your eye care clinician.
Keep your eye clean
During cataract surgery, a small incision in the front surface of your eye is created as a necessary part of the procedure. And after surgery, you’ll be given steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation and aid healing. These two factors create an environment that makes your eye vulnerable to infections as it’s recovering. Because of this, it’s important to keep the face area clean. Try to avoid soaps, shampoo, other detergents, and makeup around the eye. Also, stay away from unsterile water sources for the first week or so. This includes spas, hot tubs, swimming pools, and the beach. These locations are often a source of a nasty infection known as acanthamoeba keratitis.
Keep your eye protected
In addition to being at a heightened risk of infections, during the healing process, your eye is in a generally more fragile state. After your cataract surgery, you’ll walk out of the clinic with a protective shield. Wear this as per your cataract surgeon’s instructions. Often this may look something like keeping it on for the first 24-48 hours and then only at night for the following week or so. As your eye heals, you’ll also want to avoid any dirty environments that have the potential for debris to get caught in your eye. This may include your house basement or attic, or even the garden on a blustery day.
Complete your course of eye drops
It can be tempting to slack off with your prescription drops as soon as your eye starts feeling better. However, doing so can cause inflammation that was just about to resolve to flare up again.
Failing to finish off your drops as instructed may prolong your recovery.
After your cataract surgery, you’ll have two or three bottles of prescription drops. These are typically an antibiotic, a steroid, and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
If you think you’re having a reaction to any of these drops or are having difficulty instilling them, contact your eye care clinician for help.
Allow yourself to rest
Perhaps you can’t wait to get out and about now that your vision is so much clearer, but it’s important to let your body rest following your cataract surgery. This includes leaving the housework for later or asking someone else to do it and avoiding any strenuous physical activity. Immediately after your operation, you may be feeling tired and woozy so you will need a driver to take you home. You may also need to have someone drive you around for the following few days until your vision is clear and comfortable enough, and you feel confident to drive.
Attend all your follow-up appointments
Although it’s some extra time out of your day, you’ll want to turn up for every review appointment you’ve been scheduled. During these consultations, your eye specialist or optometrist will check that your vision is on track and your eye is healing as is expected. Typically, these appointments occur a day after your cataract surgery, a week after, and a month after. These appointments are also a good time to ask for clarification if you’re unsure about what to do after cataract surgery.
Keep an eye on your eye
Although some mild discomfort such as grittiness, redness, and glare sensitivity is normal and expected in the weeks after your procedure, if anything feels not quite right with your eye, contact your eye specialist immediately. It may also take a few weeks for your vision to settle and clear up but it should never start to deteriorate as part of normal healing. Here are some red flags that should alert you to a problem with your eye’s healing in the post-operative period:
- Increasing blur in your vision
- Any areas of vision loss, including patches of greyed or blacked out vision
- Increasing pain in the eye
- Increasing redness in the eye
- Increasing glare sensitivity
- Seeing floaters or flashing lights
- Any discharge from the eye, such as pus or mucous
- Headaches or nausea
If you’re unable to contact the eye specialist who performed the operation, visit your local optometrist, GP, or hospital emergency.
Remember that having your cataracts removed still means you should maintain regular eye checks to ensure your eyes and vision stay healthy for the years to come.
Call us now 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.