How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery?

Planning your cataract surgery and don’t want it to interfere too much with your lifestyle? You’d be surprised just how quickly you can resume certain activities after eye cataract surgery but other pursuits are best left off the agenda for a few weeks. Read on for an overview of recovery from this procedure.

The big day

You can put a big X on your calendar for the day of your procedure (or one for each operation if you’re having both eyes done). Nothing else should be planned for these days – other than a little TV that afternoon or evening. There are certain things you can do to help your recovery, but the key thing is to allow some downtime and let your body get to work healing your eyes.  You’ll need someone to take you home after your surgery and most people have a little irritation once the numbing eye drops wear off and prefer to rest or watch a little TV. Make sure you use the provided eye drops exactly as recommended by your surgeon. The anti-inflammatory drops will help your eyes feel better almost immediately.

The first few days…

It’s normal for your eyes to feel a bit irritated and vision to be a bit blurry during these early days. Your eye is still recovering. While some patients like to tell their significant other that they mustn’t lift a finger for at least two weeks, in fact, everyday activities such as walking, light household chores, or a little reading or computer work are perfectly appropriate. Take the dog out for a walk but avoid dusty environments (including some gardening activities, such as cutting the grass).

Your surgeon will be able to tell you during your post-operative visit if it’s okay for you to drive. Your vision may fluctuate hour to hour, but you should have an overall sense that things are generally getting better day by day. If you find your eyes are getting worse (blurry vision, pain, redness) a few days after surgery, call your surgeon straight away and arrange a time to be seen. You must also make immediate contact if you notice flashes or floaters or if you experience nausea or vomiting. Serious complications after cataract surgery are rare, but they do occasionally occur and require immediate management for the best outcome.

The first few weeks…

  • Avoid strenuous activities during the weeks following cataract surgery. Yes, this includes dance, yoga and even sex if any these activities are strenuous! Your body will do the best possible job of healing your eye if it’s not put under undue pressure. Nine holes of golf might be fine for some people. (You can blame your shot on the imbalance between the eyes if you’re booked in for the second cataract to follow shortly after the first eye).
  • Stay out of the pool / ocean during the healing period. This will protect your eyes from harm from nasty bugs that live in water. Your eye may feel good, thanks to all the anti-inflammatory drops you’re using, but it is still vulnerable to infection.
  • Discuss driving with your surgeon. Sometimes you may need to wait until the second eye has had its procedure (usually a week or so later).

A little patience pays off and leads to a quicker recovery in the end. Most people make a quick and painless recovery from this life-changing procedure. By 3 or 4 weeks after your surgery, your eyes should be feeling pretty comfortable. If they become uncomfortable – such as light-sensitive, scratchy or sore after you stop using your prescribed drops, you may have some residual low-level inflammation. This is easy to manage with a further course of eye drops at the advice of your eye surgeon.