Cataract surgery is one of the most common and safest surgical procedures in the United States. It is a procedure to remove the lens from the eye and, in most cases, replace it with an artificial lens. If you are considering cataract surgery for yourself or a loved one, it is important to understand what to expect after the procedure. After surgery, your eye may feel itchy, sticky, or uncomfortable. You may also experience increased watering.
Most people see better 1 to 3 days after surgery, but it may take up to 10 weeks to get the full benefits of the procedure and to see as clearly as possible. You will need to apply eye drops for the first few weeks after surgery and the full recovery period usually lasts from a few weeks to a full month. Since everyone heals differently, it is important to report your progress to your eye doctor and follow their recommendations closely. To reduce the risk of infection, avoid swimming or using a hot tub during the first week of recovery from cataract surgery. You should also avoid exposing your eyes to direct contact with water for at least one week.
It is recommended that you do not splash water directly on your face, but rather use a washcloth to clean it carefully. While the surgical incisions should close and heal within a few days, it's important to remain diligent so that no water gets into the eye during the initial recovery period. Make sure you always keep your eyes closed when you wash your face and avoid rubbing your healing eye. Most people need glasses, at least part of the time, after
cataract surgery. Your doctor will tell you when your eyes have healed enough so that you can get a final prescription for eyeglasses.
This usually happens one to three months after surgery and after 8 weeks, the eye should be completely healed. Around 90% of people see better after cataract surgery, but don't expect your vision to be perfect. You may still need to wear glasses or contact lenses. You'll usually have a follow-up appointment with your cataract surgeon the day after the procedure to make sure there are no complications. If you do not notice any improvement in your blurred vision or experience eye pain or significant discomfort in the days following this visit, you should inform your surgeon.
In most cases, waiting to have cataract surgery won't hurt your eyes, so you'll have time to consider your options. You will be provided with an eye protector that you must wear while you sleep (even when you take a nap) for at least the first week after cataract surgery. If cataracts are present in both eyes, your doctor usually schedules the second surgery after the first eye has healed. Less than 2% of eyes that undergo cataract surgery have sight-threatening complications after the procedure. Rarely, sight-threatening complications from cataract surgery can occur, such as endophthalmitis, an inflammation of the inside of the eye, usually caused by an eye infection. If possible, it may be beneficial to evaluate and treat other eye problems before deciding to have cataract surgery. Sometimes, cataract surgery doesn't improve vision because of underlying eye damage caused by other conditions, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. For the best possible recovery from
cataract surgery, follow your doctor's detailed instructions on how to protect your eye after the procedure.
Recovery from cataract surgery should be brief and uneventful as long as you follow the postoperative instructions you receive from the surgeon and attend all recommended follow-up visits with your eye doctor.