Most cataract surgeries are uneventful, and you'll be feeling normal in just a few days. In fact, often one of the biggest problems is that you may feel so good that you neglect your optometrist's instructions and put your eye at risk of complications. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin healing after cataract surgery.

What to Expect After Surgery

Cataract surgery is typically easy and quick, lasting less than 30 minutes. You will be taken to a recovery room while the anesthetic or numbing drops in your eyewear off, usually about an hour. Although your vision will return to near normal during this time, it will be somewhat blurry, and you'll need to arrange for someone else to drive you home. Although there is usually little pain associated with cataract surgery, you might experience some minor discomfort for a day or two; it'll feel like you have a speck of dust in your eye. Your doctor will prescribe some medicated eye drops to help prevent infection and aid healing and then let you leave the office with a set of instructions for what you should and shouldn't do while your eye heals.

Post-Operative Instructions

Even though you will likely feel fine a few hours after surgery, it's important to follow your doctor's instructions for the next few weeks. Here's what to expect:

  • Your optometrist will want to see you the day after surgery and will monitor you periodically until fully healed, which will take approximately 8 weeks.
  • You will likely wear an eye patch or shield for the first few days, and you'll need to wear sunglasses to protect your eye from sun glare. You can typically resume driving and return to work after 2 to 3 days. Avoid rubbing your eye for several days after surgery.
  • Avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting for several weeks to avoid increased pressure within the eye, which could burst the eye sutures.
  • You may have red or bloodshot eyes due to damage to blood vessels in your eye. If it doesn't dissipate within 2 to 3 days, call your eye surgeon.
  • Avoid swimming or using a hot tub during the first week after your cataract surgery recovery, as it could lead to infection.

Cataract surgery is generally very safe with rare complications, but everyone's experience is different. Don't hesitate to consult with your optometrist if you notice anything unusual. You can usually return to normal activities within a week or so but slow down if you notice pain or vision disturbances.