What are my activity restrictions after cataract surgery?

Restrictions after Cataract Surgery, by James Lehmann, MD

Cataract surgery involves removal of the cloudy lens and replacement with a clear, artificial lens.  The surgery takes 20-30 minutes and is usually done under local anesthesia with IV sedation.  The majority of patients have very little pain or discomfort after the surgery, and often ask us when it is safe for them to exercise, drive, etc.

Here’s a list of our postoperative rules:

For one week after surgery, no lifting heavier than 30 lbs, no swimming, and no eye make up like mascara or eyeliner.  It is okay if the eye gets wet during a shower, just lightly pat it dry.  Regarding exercise, light aerobic activities (like walking or using an elliptical) are fine after surgery, but refrain from intense work outs for a week.

Regarding driving, this depends on each patient’s vision in the other eye and use of glasses, but generally, most patients can drive 1-2 days after surgery.  Please ask your surgeon about this question as it pertains to you.

Common misconceptions:

Many patients think that they can’t bend over after cataract surgery.  With modern cataract surgery, this is not the case.  Also, a patch is only needed full-time for the first day after surgery.  Lastly, you can’t get another cataract once you’ve had cataract surgery.


Because infectious corneal ulcers are a serious problem regularly encountered at Focal Point Vision, a review of their prevention and treatment is useful.


Most of the corneal ulcers seen in our practice are related to contact lens wear, and can be prevented by following a few guidelines. The most important of these is that contact lenses should always be removed from the eyes before sleeping, even if only for an hour or two. This applies to extended-wear contacts as well those marketed for “day and night” wear.  Contacts can cause microscopic abrasions of the cornea during sleep, which open a pathway for bacteria to enter the cornea and cause an ulcer, which is highly painful as well as potentially vision threatening.

Daily disposable contacts cause the fewest infections, and are preferable. If extended-wear contacts are used, they should be replaced routinely every 2-4 weeks. These lenses should be cleaned daily with preservative-free liquid cleaner and hydrogen peroxide disinfectant solution. Never clean contact lenses with tap water, and avoid swimming in contacts, especially in rivers or lakes – these activities raise the risk of a severe parasitic infection, called acanthamoeba keratitis. Fungal infections of the cornea can be caused by traumatic abrasions, especially with branches and leaves of trees and plants. For this reason safety glasses should always be worn when doing yard work and gardening.


An infection or ulcer of the cornea usually causes pain, irritation, blurred vision, light sensitivity, tearing, and redness of the eye. If a person starts to experience  some of these symptoms, they should promptly remove their contact lenses. Eye drops, especially anti-inflammatory or steroid drops, should not be used until an experienced eye physician has closely examined the affected eye. Focal Point Vision doctors are equipped with all of the necessary tools for diagnosing infections of the eye including a confocal microscope, which can take detailed photos of each layer of the cornea in order to visualize more unusual parasitic or fungal infections.  We routinely work with local compounding pharmacies to make the strongest and most effective infection-fighting medications for our patients.