Cataracts surgery recovery time - Dos and Don'ts

11 October 2022

Author: Ada Yang

Cataracts Surgery

What is cataract surgery?

When the lens of the eye starts to get cloudy, it is a sign that you are developing cataracts. Developing cataracts at an older age is very common, especially at the age of 60 and over. Cataracts may appear with mild symptoms at first but they will gradually grow worse with age. Studies show that cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness; however they can be treated simply with cataract surgery. 

A cataract begins to form when you are aging because this changes the tissue which makes up the eyes lens. The proteins in the eye begin to break down which prevents the lens from sending clear images to the retina. The retina works by converting the light that passes through the lens into visual signals which are then sent to the optic nerve and are carried to the brain.

Cataract surgery involves removing your eye’s natural clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial lens to restore clear vision. This artificial lens means that you cannot form another cataract later in life.

Symptoms of cataract include:

  • Clouded of blurred vision
  • Seeing Halos around lights
  • Light sensitivity
  • Dimmed coloured vision
  • Double vision in a single eye
  • Difficulty with vision at night

How long is the surgery/procedure?

Typically, the time it takes for a cataract surgery is around 20 minutes per eye. When you have the cataract surgery, it will be carried out under local anaesthetic which is administered in the form of eye drops. As the surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, you are able to go home on the same day.


Cataract surgery recovery time

After your surgery, you may need to have a plastic shield over both of your eyes or just one treated eye. You will need to wear these eye shields during the night for a week to protect your eyes while you sleep and prevent any accidental knocks. Your eyes will be sensitive for the next few days but to fully recover you will need to give your eyes 4-6 weeks.


What should you do after cataract surgery?

Use eye drops - One of the first things you should do is use eye drops as instructed. It is very important that you make sure to take the eye drops after surgery because your eyes will become dry therefore you need eye drops to lubricate them, and to aid healing. You should wash your hands before using the eye drops to make sure no infection occurs.

Attend all aftercare appointments – After you have cataract surgery you will have 4 appointments to attend. The first one will be the next day following the day you had your procedure so if you are travelling far, you may find it more convenient to book a hotel to stay overnight. After that appointment, the next 3 upcoming ones will be one week after each surgery. Your last visit will be in between 3-6 months and then you will be discharged if you’re happy with everything.

Wear eye shield – We suggest that you wear eye shields at night for at least a week after your cataract surgery because this can stop bacteria from getting into your eyes. This will also help you to avoid rubbing your eyes or cause an accidental injury while you are still in recovery process. If you had a cataract in one eye then we would suggest sleeping on the side which is your non operative side to avoid applying pressure as your eye heals.

Face wash – You can wash your face the day after the cataracts surgery while being cautious not to touch the eye. We recommend that you do not splash water on your face because it could enter your eyes. We suggest you use a washcloth instead to carefully clean your face. Even though your eyes should mostly heal within a few days, you still want to be careful and make sure that you don’t get water into your eyes.


Things you should not do after cataract surgery

Wear make-up – We know lots of our patients ask how long would it take them to recover before wearing eye make-up. We suggest not wearing make up for 2 weeks because it can carry bacteria and if it gets onto the eyes, there is a chance you may get an infection. You can carefully put face make up around the eyes but not going near the eyes.

Use soap or shampoo – Make sure you avoid getting soap or shampoo in your eyes because the chemicals inside them can harm your eyes, cause discomfort and possibly lead to an infection. If you are taking a shower, be cautious not to splash any water into your eyes.

Go swimming – It is very important to keep your eyes away from water, especially chlorine because it is dangerous for your eyes, especially when your eyes haven’t healed fully. If you swim as a hobby, we suggest taking a break for 5 weeks to give your eyes time to heal. Don’t risk going swimming as you cannot avoid the water going into your eyes and we advise not wearing goggles as it puts pressure on the eyes.

 Participate in sports – You should ask for your doctor’s advice about how soon you are able to do strenuous exercise. We would advise not to attempt any heavy activities before consulting your doctor and they say it is okay for you to do so.

If you would like to have cataract surgery, you can book your FREE consultation with us. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0800 988 6390 or with any questions you may have.

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