Cataract surgery is a quick, simple surgery with an extremely high success rate. However, this success rate is largely determined by your recovery.
Although the procedure itself is low-risk, there are a few post-op recovery steps which patients must follow in order to ensure the best possible outcome.
This surgery has life-changing benefits, but in order to reap these benefits, aftercare is paramount.
To learn more about the best recovery steps to follow after cataract surgery, this blog highlights what you need to know.
What to Expect Post-Surgery
In the grand scheme of things, cataract surgery recovery is relatively minimal, but there are some precautions which are important.
Skipping over these recovery steps could lead to complications, infection and more time spent in the doctor’s surgery than anticipated.
Directly after cataract surgery, you will not be able to drive, so make sure you have pre-organized transport.
Post-surgery you will move to a recovery suite where a protective shield is placed over your eyes to avoid contact or rubbing.
Rest time in the recovery suite is usually 30-minutes to 1-hour to allow any anesthetic or sedative effects to wear off.
Your surgeon will pay you a visit, so don’t shy away from asking about possible recovery complications and what to expect.
6 Steps to Successful Recovery After Cataract Surgery
Your eye surgeon will generally recommend these key recovery steps:
1. Avoid Driving Post-Surgery
Now, we’ve already mentioned you won’t be able to drive directly after your surgery, but this extends to a few days post-surgery too.
Generally, this is 3-4 days after your surgery, but your doctor will need to clear you for driving beforehand.
After your first follow-up appointment, your surgeon will give you a time-frame of when you can drive again, depending on your healing.
Remember to pre-arrange a lift home before your surgery!
You will be supplied with protective sunglasses to wear during your drive home and throughout your recovery when outdoors.
2. Keep Your Eyes Protected
Directly after your surgery, your eye(s) are covered with a clear, protective shield to protect against rubbing, dirt, and pollutants.
When you arrive home, you can remove this shield after a couple of hours or so. But, don’t discard the shield as it must be worn while sleeping for 4-5 days post-surgery.
Be aware that you may experience distorted vision for a few minutes after the shield is removed.
The new, artificial lens has to adapt to the light around you and may take a few hours to dissipate.
3. Avoid Harsh Lighting
Another important precaution is to avoid harsh, flashing lights for at least the first 24-hours after your cataract surgery.
This includes sources of light from your television, mobile phone, tablet device, computer, laptop etc.
If your home has bright fluorescent lighting, try and keep these lights off and use dim, lamp lighting where possible.
Remember to take it easy and rest your eyes as much as possible. They need to heal and not become overwhelmed by stimuli.
An extra tip? Collect your prescription eye drops before your surgery takes place. This way you can go directly home and rest.
4. Take Care When Bathing
Yes, you are permitted to shower or take a bath post-surgery. However, do so with maximum precaution!
At all costs, try and avoid splashing or drenching your face with water, especially soapy water. It’s best to avoid doing so for at least a week post-surgery as your eye(s) heal.
During the first week post-surgery, your eye is essentially an open wound which is vulnerable to infection. Polluting your eye with dirty water can bring on an unwanted infection and further complications!
If you need to wash your hair, enlist the help of a partner or friend or visit your local hairdresser. But advise them to proceed with caution!
Face wipes or a damp face cloth are ideal for a thorough face cleanse during this first-week post-surgery.
5. Don’t Skip Follow-Up Appointments
This is a very important part of your recovery as your doctor assesses your healing and prescribed medication.
Your first appointment is a post-surgery follow up, scheduled for the day after your surgery. Remember to pre-organize a lift to and from your surgeon’s offices.
Your surgeon will then review your healing progress and adjust medications in order to keep infection at bay.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your recovery, this is the appointment to ask your surgeon.
If your recovery is on track, you will generally be cleared for driving a day or two after this appointment.
Another follow-up appointment with a general eye doctor is normally arranged for a month’s time.
6. Closely Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
This part of your recovery process goes without saying, but post-surgery your surgeon will sit down with you and list a number of things to avoid.
It’s important to take mental notes or ask him/her to write it all down so you can refer to it throughout your recovery.
Some of these pointers may include:
- Remember to wear dark, UV sunglasses in the first few weeks post-surgery when heading outdoors
- You won’t be able to participate in strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for 3-4 weeks
- Make sure to fully complete your course of antibiotics to avoid infection
- Likewise, make sure to finish your course of disinfectant eye drops to avoid infection
- Keep your home clean and dust free in the first few weeks post-op
- Avoid doing any cleaning around your home where dust and irritants could find their way to your eyes
- Avoid rubbing and scratching your eyes, at all costs!
- Do not submerge your head underwater for at least a week post-op
- Avoid wearing make-up, eye make-up especially, for at least 2-3 weeks post-surgery
- If you experience vision loss, persistent pain, light flashes, nausea or vomiting, see your doctor right away
While this list may seem extensive, a large part of your recovery boils down to common-sense. Think about your day-to-day actions and how they could impact your recovery.
Essentially, your eye(s) is an open, healing wound in the first few days after cataract surgery. Take the most care in these first few days and the rest will follow!
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