After Cataract Surgery
Perhaps you’ve recently learned you have cataracts and have scheduled a cataract surgery. Now you want to know what to expect after the surgery. The good news is that it’s an outpatient surgery, so you’ll be back home the same day since the procedure itself usually only takes about an hour.
Cataract Removal and IOLs
To remove a cataract, surgeons must look through a microscope to see the edges of the lens. After making a small incision(s) in the front of the cornea, the doctor removes the hazy lens and replaces it with a permanent implant. The implant is called an intraocular lens (IOL). Before the surgery, your Milauskas Eye Institute doctor will assist you in choosing the appropriate intraocular lens implant that best suits your lifestyle and vision needs. All implants help with distance vision, but specific lens implants provide reading vision as well.
A basic implant, a monofocal lens, corrects vision in only one area, usually distance. However, after the surgery vision will be unclouded. Reading glasses may still be necessary if they were before cataract development.
Advanced Technology Implants, multifocal lenses, use the latest technology in correcting vision after cataract surgery, correcting both distance and near vision, thereby greatly reducing the need for eyeglasses.
Once the IOL has been inserted, the cataract removal procedure is over. Only rarely are sutures required. The doctor will give you some sunglasses to protect your eyes on the drive home. Someone else will need to drive you. The patient goes home the same day and returns to the doctor’s office the next day for a quick post-operative check-up.
What to Expect After Cataract Surgery
Post-operative recovery for cataract surgery usually takes just a few days, during which you may experience some mild eye discomfort. As a patient, you are given a protective shield for your eye. The doctor will give you specific instructions about when to remove or replace the eye shield. It is generally used during sleep for several days. Vision may seem blurry when the eye shield is first removed. This distorted vision is normal while your eye becomes accustomed to the intraocular lens.
Cataract Surgery Recovery Time
Typically, a patient’s vision will improve over the course of a few weeks. As a result, doctors like to wait three or four weeks before updating a glasses prescription. During this recovery time there may be some blurring and halos around lights as the cornea clears. Most patients are able to return to light activities in a few days but should avoid heavy lifting or sports for at least a week.
Pain After Cataract Surgery
There can be some mild pain after surgery resulting from the small incisions made to remove the lens. It may feel like ‘an eyelash in the eye’ or like a scratched cornea. Most patients who feel this mild discomfort find relief with acetaminophen and report greatly improved symptoms by the next day.
Floaters After Cataract Surgery
Floaters exist for a number of reasons, with or without cataract surgery. However, because your vision improves after the removal of a hazy lens, you may become more aware of floaters. This is normal, but if you experience large floaters, loss of vision, or pain, you should report it to your surgeon.
How Cataract Surgery Improves Vision
After healing, most patients report improvement in their sight, with crisper vision, brighter colors, and less glare. Many didn’t realize how hazy their vision had become until the cataract was gone. Depending on the IOL chosen, you could potentially exit surgery with better vision than you had before the cataract developed.
Dos and Don’ts After Cataract Surgery
While you will probably feel able to return to normal activities shortly after your cataract surgery, follow these tips to expedite your recovery:
- Do not drive on the day of your cataract surgery
- Be careful not to bump into anything
- Avoid activities that put pressure on the eye (lifting heavy objects, bending down, strenuous activity, sneezing, vomiting)
- Do not rub your eye
- Avoid eye irritants, such as wind, dust, and smoke
- Do not swim or use a hot tub the first week after eye surgery
Do enjoy clearer vision, brighter colors, and greater freedom. Talk to one of the cataract specialists at Milauskas Eye Institute to schedule a consultation, learn more about cataract surgery, or discuss any post-operative concerns you may have. We’re here to help.