Cataract Surgery Recovery: What You Can Expect

Cataract Surgery Recovery: What You Can Expect

If you suffer from cataracts — a common condition in which the lens in your eye becomes cloudy and affects vision — then your doctor may suggest cataract surgery.

There are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of cataracts or to improve your eyesight for a while. However, the only way to treat cataracts effectively is through surgery.

If you or someone you know is about to have cataract surgery, then you may be looking for some more information surrounding it.

This article will discuss cataract surgery in more detail, as well as cataract surgery recovery and anything else you need to know.

What is cataract surgery?

Cataract's surgery is a straightforward procedure that involves removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with an artificial one. This significantly helps to improve the patient's vision.

Cataracts cause cloudy patches in your eye which get worse over time — impairing vision and eventually causing blindness in some cases. Replacing the eye’s cloudy lens with an artificial one will improve your eyesight and quality of life.

The surgery itself is a standard and safe procedure with a very high success rate. It should take no longer than 30 minutes to complete, and you will be awake for the surgery under local anaesthetic.

To find out more about cataract surgery, from how it works to the patient journey, please read our patient stories page.

How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?

You should be able to go home on the same day as your surgery.

Generally, your eyes will fully heal from the surgery between one to three months afterwards.

However, many patients praise cataract surgery for its immediate results. The feeling should start to come back in your eye within a few hours following surgery, and vision soon after, though this may take up to a few days. Once your vision is back, you should notice a dramatic improvement.

Six weeks after your surgery, you may be asked to take an eye test. This test will determine whether you need a new glasses prescription.

Dos and don'ts after cataract surgery

There are a few things that you can do to assist your cataract surgery recovery. After cataract surgery, there are certain dos and don’ts that you will need to follow.

You should:

  • Use any eye drops that you receive from your surgeon as instructed
  • Try to rest for several days after the surgery and take pain medication if needed
  • Wear sunglasses to help you protect your eyes (this will also help you refrain from touching them)

Along with the list of dos, there are also plenty of things that you should avoid:

  • Rubbing, scratching or touching your eyes
  • Driving
  • Vigorous exercise
  • Getting any substances in them like water

It is best to avoid touching your face as much as possible, so try not to wear any makeup and avoid putting on lotions.

Failure to follow these precautions after cataract surgery could hinder your recovery process.

How long does it take for vision to stabilise after cataract surgery?

The recovery process after cataract surgery will differ between people. Most patients will see improvement in their vision within 24-48 hours.

However, this is not the case for everyone, and it could take some people up to two weeks before their vision stabilises. You should be provided with the correct aftercare once your surgery is over.

If you have concerns regarding the surgery, our team of experts at The McIndoe Centre will help you through each step of the process. If your vision does not stabilise quickly after your surgery, it is important to remember that this is normal for some patients. Everyone's recovery journey will be unique to them.

Will you be required to take time off work for the surgery?

One of the great things about cataract surgery is that you often do not need to stay in hospital overnight, and you can be driven home on the same day.

However, it would help if you gave yourself enough time to rest, like all operations.

When it comes to work, you should consider a few things before going back. You should take the speed of your recovery into account alongside how well you have reacted to the surgery and your line of work.

If your line of work is strenuous, it may take you a bit longer to get back into your job role compared to someone who works from home. As briefly mentioned, everyone's recovery journey is unique to them. However, typically cataract surgery has a quick recovery time. Most people in less strenuous jobs can return to work after a few days off.

How long after cataract surgery can you drive?

How quickly you can drive after your surgery will depend on how fast your vision improves.

To drive after your surgery, you must be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away. You will also need to undergo an eye test to make sure that you can read from afar using both eyes. Often, this can be arranged by your optician.

Some patients may be able to drive after a few days if they have only had one eye operated on. However, others may need a new glasses prescription before they get behind the wheel again, which will require an eye test. Speak to your optician if you are unsure about your current prescription.

How soon can you exercise after cataract surgery?

Throughout the recovery process, you can resume different levels of physical activity. To better understand what you can do, it is best to break it down.

You can exercise as follows:

  • One week after surgery: Low-impact physical activity such as walking, light household chores, and gentle stretching.
  • Two weeks after surgery: Moderate-level activities such as jogging, yoga, brisk walking, and slow dancing.
  • Four to six weeks after surgery: More intense physical activity can be resumed after being cleared by your doctor, such as swimming, weightlifting, and running.

Stick to these timeframes and speak to your surgeon if you are unsure about anything.

If you would like to know more about cataracts surgery and cataract surgery recovery, then The McIndoe Centre would love to assist you on your journey. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to speak to one of our dedicated team members today.