Life After Cataracts: Recovery & Activity

Life After Cataracts: Recovery & Activity

Cataract surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure; in other words, most patients return home the same day and do not need to spend a night in the hospital. Immediately after surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room for a short period. The family member or friend who joined you for the operation will then take you home. In the majority of cases, healing occurs within the first eight weeks, during which time the physician will likely check the progress with regular exams.

What activities may I engage in after cataract surgery?

Although you will be able to return to many of your everyday activities soon, try to take it easy for a few days. Use the eye drops provided by your doctor as prescribed to reduce the risk of infection, and wear your glasses or shield, especially at night or while taking nap. Wear your protective sunglasses when outside. If you feel up to it, non-strenuous, safe activities (like playing cards or watching TV) are usually okay during recovery. Be sure to get your doctor’s approval before you begin driving again and discuss any other activities that you plan to do during your recovery period if you are unsure about their safety.

What activities should I avoid after cataract surgery?

  • Heavy lifting (25 pounds or more).
  • Swimming, hot tubs, or other water sources that could get into your eye and cause infection. (Wear your shield and keep the eye closed when bathing.)
  • Activities that could expose the eye to dust, toxins, or infection, such as changing cat litter.
  • Strenuous exercise, including bending, that could jeopardize the healing process.

What side effects are common after surgery?

Immediately after surgery, you will likely experience mild to moderate discomfort. Although this symptom usually resolves after a few days, your provider may recommend a treatment in the mean time. Your eye(s) will probably also be sensitive to light and pressure. Itching is also a common side effect, but try not to rub your eyes. A shield or other form of protective eyewear will likely be required during the early period.  Another frequently experienced side effect is fluid discharge.

What side effects are uncommon and may require further care?

If you experience any of the following symptoms after cataract surgery, you should contact your doctor immediately:

  • Bleeding
  • Pain
  • Double vision
  • vision loss
  • Low or high eye pressure
  • Infection
  • Inflammation (swelling and redness)

My vision is still blurry.  Is this normal?

If you are still experiencing blurry vision after cataract surgery, don’t panic. The eye needs time to heal and recalibrate its ability to focus with the other eye. If the other eye has a cataract, this adjustment may take a while. It is also important to remember that you may still need glasses or contact lenses following cataract surgery. Furthermore, an intraocular lens (IOL) will likely improve your color vision, having replaced your yellowed lens with a clear lens. This change will take some time to adjust to as well. If the blurriness persists or if you believe you have lost part of your sight following the surgery, you may require further care. 

I had cataract surgery two years ago. Why is my vision in the same eye blurry again?

Although such complications are uncommon, they can occur. As the eye heals, tissue forms around the IOL. In some cases, this tissue may grow cloudy, which is called an after-cataract. A side effect that can occur months to years following surgery, an after-cataract is usually successfully treated with the outpatient procedure YAG laser capsulotomy, which creates a small hole in the tissue behind the lens.  This hole allows light to pass to the retina. 

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