If you follow your eye surgeon’s instructions, cataract surgery recovery should be as smooth and uneventful as the surgery itself. Most people report clear vision within several days as their surgery, although this could take longer. Minor discomfort or irritation is common after surgery, although this usually only lasts one to three days. Complete recovery time for your eye(s) could take anywhere from four to eight weeks. In the hours and days after surgery, it’s normal to experience:
- A red or bloodshot eye
- Blurred vision
- Watering of the eye
You can decrease healing time and potential discomfort by following a handful of relatively simple precautionary tips.
Tips to minimize cataract surgery recovery time
Call off work: Since the first few days of recovery are the most crucial, it’s best to take it easy on the first few days after cataract surgery. Schedule one to three days off work, if possible. Avoid strenuous activity: Do not engage in rigorous exercise and avoid lifting heavy objects for a couple of weeks after surgery. Strenuous activity can increase the pressure in your eye, which can interfere with the incision before it fully heals. Avoid bending over, too, when you can. Bending over can increase pressure by sending blood rushing to your eye. Shield your eyes from irritants: Your eye will be sensitive, and it’s normal to feel like there are particles in them after surgery. That’s why it’s important to protect them from irritants like dust, pollen, debris, and even wind and intense sunlight by wearing wraparound sunglasses, especially on bright days. You should also avoid rubbing your eye whenever possible. Your eye doctor might provide you with an eye shield to help you avoid this overnight as you sleep.
Shower and wash your face carefully: Water exposure can lead to infection or irritation of the eye. When you get home from your procedure, skip showering that night. And when you shower, avoid splashing water on your face. The same concept applies to washing your face over the sink. Use a washcloth to carefully clean your face with your eyes closed instead of splashing water. While your surgery incisions should heal within a few days, you should still be cautious about keeping water out of your eye for two weeks. In the initial hours and days after surgery, you should also avoid:
- Eye makeup or face lotion
- Swimming pools and hot tubs
Consult your doctor
Follow your eye doctor’s instructions carefully for a smooth recovery. Since everyone is different, ask your doctor about the activities above for specific timelines based on your personal recovery speed. You should also contact them immediately if you experience lingering eye pain, floaters or flashes in your vision, loss of vision, a shade or shadow over your vision, nausea, vomiting or excessive coughing. Be sure to take eyedrops and any medication as prescribed. Photo credit: Getty Images Read more: