Your Cataract Surgery Recovery
Reviewed by: Jason Jacobs, M.D. & Paul Koch, MD
To experience the easiest recovery after Cataract Surgery as well as to have a successful and uncomplicated Cataract Surgery, it is important to FOLLOW YOU SURGEON’S INSTRUCTIONS.
It is completely normal for each patient’s recovery from Cataract Surgery to be slightly different. Each person is unique in their overall health, healing process and tolerance to eye surgery. However, there are some basic expectations that are pretty common for almost all people having Cataract Surgery.
What To Expect Immediately After Your Cataract Surgery
You may experience a slight grogginess during the time that you are in the surgery center recovery or waiting area. This is normally due to the small dose of anti-anxiety or sedative medication that you were given in order to relax. For most patients this wears off pretty quickly and usually wears off before you will be leaving the surgery center.
During the time immediately after your surgery and when you arrive home on the day of your surgery it is important to take it easy and just relax. If your caregiver has not filled the prescription you were given for medications and eye drops, it is important to have them filled on the way home from the surgery center or right away upon driving you home. It is best if you do not rub or touch your eye or any eye covering that may have been applied. Remember, you will not be allowed to drive yourself home on the day of surgery.
What To Expect The Day After Your Cataract Surgery
Some patients may be aware of a mild sensitivity to touch and may experience a sensation of grittiness or scratchiness. This may last for a few days after your Cataract Surgery. Some patients report seeing some glare and halo around lights. These types of experiences are normal and will diminish each day until they are completely gone. It is important to be carefully following your surgeon’s instructions for the use of your eye drops. Your surgeon will most likely tell you that it is okay to resume your normal daily activities such as walking, reading and watching television. It is likely that you will need to continue to wear your protective eye shield or covering while you sleep. This helps prevent you from accidentally rubbing your eye or bumping it while you sleep.
During the first day or so immediately after your Cataract Surgery it is best not to drive. Also be careful to avoid rubbing your eye or getting anything in your eye including water as this can increase your risk of infection. Do not begin wearing eye or face makeup until your surgeon gives you the okay to do so. If possible, try to sleep on your side opposite the one that has had surgery. Do not perform any strenuous activity or lift objects. Make your first day a restful one.
What To Expect The Week After Your Cataract Surgery
During the first week or so after Cataract Surgery some patients still report experiencing a mild grittiness and seeing some residual haloes and glare. By this time however, these symptoms are decreasing each day. With your surgeon’s approval you will be able to resume virtually all of your routine daily activities including exercise, except for water sports, and any activity that involves lifting moderate to heavy objects. You will find that your old eyeglasses no longer have the correct prescription for you, especially if you have had a near vision presbyopia correcting lens implant, such as Crystalens®, ReZoom™ or ReSTOR®, as this type of Lens Implant is intended to correct your distance and near vision without relying on eyeglasses.
During the first week after surgery it is still important to avoid rubbing your eye and getting anything in your eye including water. Most likely you will still need to refrain from wearing face or eye makeup during the first week after your surgery.
What To Expect The First Month After Your Cataract Surgery
A month or so after your Cataract Surgery your eye will have most likely completely healed. If you have had a Monofocal Lens Implant to correct only your distance vision, you should be comfortable with how things look far away. If you have had a near vision presbyopia correcting Lens Implant such as Crystalens®, ReZoom™ or ReSTOR® your brain will be readapting to your vision and the Lens Implant. This is normal. It is perfectly okay to use your eyes as much as you would like as this helps your eye and your brain to reestablish to normal pattern of vision. During your Cataract examination if your eye doctor determined that you were in need of Cataract Surgery in both eyes, and you have only had the first eye Cataract Surgery you should not judge the overall quality of your vision with your Lens Implant until you have had the second eye surgery. Usually, within one to two weeks after your first eye surgery you will be able to have the second eye operated. Many qualities of your vision may improve immediately, such as color perception, however, it may take a few weeks and possibly up to 2-3 months for you to see the final results of your surgeries if you have had a had a near vision presbyopia correcting Lens Implant such as Crystalens®, ReZoom™ or ReSTOR®.
If your surgeon has prescribed any additional eye drops, be sure to continue using them. Make sure to keep all of your follow up appointments no matter how well you think you are doing.
What To Expect Two to Three Months After Your Cataract Surgery
Most likely you will be seeing and feeling quite well. For the most part your eyes and brain have reestablished a new visual pattern. If there is a need for a mild eyeglass prescription your eye doctor will have been able to prescribe it for you. Feel free to use your eyes and vision as much as you would like. The more you use them, the more the new visual pattern will become embedded. During this period of time some patients begin to develop “posterior capsular opacification” commonly known as a secondary Cataract. In instances where this occurs, the posterior capsule that supports the Lens Implant will have become cloudy and may blur your vision. If this occurs your surgeon will perform a simple follow-up procedure called a YAG Laser Capsulotomy to clear up the cloudiness.
What To Expect Six to Twelve Months After Your Cataract Surgery
You should see well and feel well and be able to do the kinds of activities that you remember being able to do before your developed Cataracts. Remember that it is important to continue having yearly eye examinations-or if you have any other systemic disease such as diabetes, eye diseases or conditions such as glaucoma, it is necessary to follow the appointment schedule that your eye doctor recommends.
The information that has been provided here is intended to give patients the overall general expectations of a complication free recovery process from Cataract Surgery. It is possible that your individual experience might be different. None of the information provided here is meant to be a substitute or replace your physician’s instructions nor does it replace the need for you to consult with your surgeon about specific details of your Cataract Surgery recovery process.