The cataract surgeon tells us that cataract surgery, also referred to as Phacoemulsification, is a fast and straightforward procedure. Typically, the eye surgery operation is a day case. When the patient arrives at the hospital or clinic, the surgical team will have to prepare his or her eyes for surgery.
This involves the eye surgeon putting some drops in the patient’s eyes to dilate his or her pupils to make them wider. Also, the patient is asked to sign some consent documents and is handed a surgical gown to wear.
How Long Is Cataract Surgery?
When the patient is in the operating theater, the cataract surgery takes about 15 minutes and he or she will be discharged from the hospital when they feel ready to leave. Your visit will take no longer than four hours.
An eye surgeon can perform cataract surgery using eye drops to numb the area or else under local anesthetic. If you have cataract surgery with eye drops only, your eye surgeon will advise you to wear a transparent shield over your eye until you arrive home.
If your eye surgeon uses a local anesthetic, you will have to wear an eye pad and a shield for a few more hours until the anesthetic wears off.
What Are The Side Effects Of Cataract Surgery?
Right after surgery, your eye will water and feel a little gritty. However, don’t worry because that is a normal side effect. Also, your vision will be slightly blurred, and your eye may also feel sensitive to light and look red or bloodshot.
The drops that were used to dilate your pupils before surgery, will take at least 24 hours to wear off. During this time, don’t be alarmed if you notice your pupil is larger than average. Additionally, your vision will be blurred while you wait for the drops to wear off.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Cataract Surgery?
Again, don’t freak out if your vision seems cloudy, distorted, or blurry when your cataract surgeon first takes off the eye shield. It can take a while for your visual system to get used to the removal of the cataract and get familiar with the intraocular lens used to replace the eye’s natural lens.
Some patients have claimed to see “wavy” vision or distortions during this familiarization period. This phenomenon, if it exists, should only last for about an hour.
Furthermore, red and bloodshot eyes are common because of the temporary damage to blood vessels on the white part of the eye (sclera) during cataract surgery. While the eye heals, the redness should disappear within several days. If the eye surgeon administered an injection of anesthesia through the skin into the lower portion of your eye, you may see some bruising that looks like a black eye. Again, this will also fade within a few days.
Most patients say their vision clears up within several hours after cataract surgery. However, everyone heals differently, and you may require at least a week or two before you see images in their sharpest focus.
Typically, you will have a follow-up appointment with your cataract surgeon the day after the procedure to ensure there are no complications. Also, if you feel pain or immense discomfort in the days following the visit, you should let your eye surgeon know.
Occasionally, some patients make known to their eye doctor some dry eye or “scratchiness” after cataract surgery. These feelings should lessen as the eye heals unless the person already had issues with dry eyes before having the procedure.
A complete cataract surgery recovery should happen within around a month when the eye is entirely healed.
What Are The Best Ways To Help Cataract Recovery?
Surprisingly, many patients feel very good and find they can easily get back to their normal activities even the day after cataract surgery.
Nevertheless, you should pay attention to a few preventive measures during the first week to guarantee you avoid any complications during your cataract surgery recovery.
Typically, your cataract surgeon will prescribe antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection, and anti-inflammatory eye drops to help lessen any internal inflammation. You have to apply the eye drops several times daily for at least the first week following surgery.
Revolving around how much postoperative inflammation you have, you may require the drops for a few weeks to a month. It’s recommended to use these drops precisely as prescribed.
For instance, oral pain relievers such as acetaminophen may be prescribed, if required. Normally, however, you should feel a little discomfort after cataract surgery.
To make sure you have a safe and quick recovery, read the advice below.
- Avoid driving on the first day following surgery – You should talk to your eye doctor about when you can safely get back behind the wheel since it’s all based on your recovery.
- Don’t do any strenuous activities for a few weeks – Don’t do any rigorous exercise and activities that involve heavy lifting for a few weeks to reduce the possibility of increased eye pressure. The reason being is that high eye pressure can disrupt the incision before it completely heals. You should avoid getting into positions that place your head below your waist. For instance, bending over can increase eye pressure and should be avoided immediately after surgery.
- Avoid Pools And Shower Carefully – After cataract surgery, exposing your eyes to water increases your risk of infection. So, do your best to avoid pools and shower carefully until your eye has healed completely. Most eye surgeons will recommend giving yourself at least one night of sleep before showering and don’t allow a stream of water to hit your eye directly. You should ask your doctor when it is safe to start swimming or using a hot tub. In many instances, you will resume these activities within a few weeks.
- Protect Yourself From Irritants And Other Trauma – When you arrive home from your cataract surgery, it is normal to feel that you have an object in your eyes such as a particle of sand or an eyelash. Overall, expect your eyes to feel sensitive to the environment for about a week after surgery. It’s a good idea to get wraparound sunglasses to protect yourself from exposure to dust, pollen, and dirt, and these sunglasses will help with sensitivity to light.
Additionally, your eye doctor will provide you with an eye shield for you to put on while sleeping during your recovery time to prevent you from rubbing or touching your eyes.
Abide By Your Cataract Surgeon’s Orders
You should ask your doctor about precautions you can take, such as the ones listed above, and the appropriate timelines for getting back to normal activities. Also, you should contact your cataract surgeon right away if you experience any of the following symptoms after your cataract surgery:
- Vision loss
- Spots (floaters) or flashes in your vision
- Eye pain
- Nausea, vomiting, or excessive coughing
Make sure to follow the dosage instructions of the prescribed medications, such as eye drops or pain relievers. Every patient and every eye has particular requirements, so your eye doctor will give the best directions for a successful recovery.
On the whole, you can carry out these activities within a couple of hours of your surgery:
- Computer work
- Light TV watching
- Showering or bathing
To get the best cataract surgery recovery results ever possible, make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions on how to protect your eye following your procedure. Typically, these instructions are provided to you as a handout that you can take home on surgery day.
If you require cataract surgery in both eyes, your eye surgeon will usually wait about a couple of days to two weeks for your first eye to recover before performing a procedure on the second eye.