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What to expect after cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is among the most frequently done surgeries in the United States with over 3 million procedures done each year. Recovering from cataract surgery is very straightforward for the vast majority of patients.

The procedure is done on an outpatient basis and usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes with another 30 minutes or more in recovery. You will have a protective eye shield placed on your eye which can be removed for showering and when watching TV or reading. It should be replaced when napping or sleeping to protect the eye as instructed.

After you have recovered you can be driven home to relax for the rest of the day. You may feel sleepy from the sedation which is normal. You will be given sunglasses to wear to protect your eye from bright light.

With the cataract gone, you will notice the world a much brighter place as the cloudy lens has been replaced with a crystal clear lens. You may find it more comfortable to wear the sunglasses wherever there is bright light but it isn’t medically necessary.

Blurry vision is normal after cataract surgery

Your treated eye may remain dilated for up to 24 hours and you may also notice your vision is blurry for several days or more. It is normal to have some fluctuation of vision as your eye adapts to the new lens.

Following surgery it is normal to experience irritation, dryness, scratchiness or watering for about a week. You will be given prescription antibiotic and anti inflammatory drops to use which will help with irritation. Follow the schedule for applying the drops carefully as there is a sequence that should be followed for best results.

Dr. Maloney will see you within a few days of surgery to ensure that healing is progressing as expected. It will take about a month for the eye to be fully healed but you will be able to resume most activities in just a few days.

Cataract surgery complications

Cataract surgery is very safe and uncomplicated in the majority of patients. However if you notice any of the following symptoms, contact the office immediately:

  • Moderate eye or eyebrow pain
  • Dramatic decrease in vision
  • Increase in redness and discharge

Retinal detachment

While rare, retinal detachment can occur following surgery. Signs that you may be experiencing retinal detachment are given here. Please contact us immediately if you are experiencing any of them. You may notice a curtain coming across your vision or a flashing light at the corner of your eye.

You may also notice a large number of new floaters (tiny specks or “cobwebs” that drift in your vision) occurring 2 weeks or more after surgery. These may appear like a swarm of bees or a spider web. Please note that this is different than the few floaters you will likely notice after your procedure. These are normal and to be expected.

General cataract aftercare advice

The following are tried and tested instructions that will assist your recovery and ensure you have the best possible outcome from your surgery. If you have any questions at all about what you can or cannot do after your procedure, please call the office for clarification.

Do not drink alcohol the day of your procedure. You can resume your regular diet and medication schedule immediately following surgery.

To guard against infection, do not swim, go in a hot tub or Jacuzzi, have a steam bath, or go into a dry sauna for one week after your surgery. You can bathe or shower as you wish.

Eye makeup should not be worn for 24 hours, again to guard against infection. After this time, you can wear brand new makeup just out of the package. Mascara and eyeliner accumulate germs so your current makeup could cause an infection. After the first week, you can resume using your current makeup.

Keeping your blood pressure even helps the eye heal so do not exercise for at least 48 hours. After this period you may resume any exercise that does not involve lifting heavy objects. Check with Dr. Maloney if you are uncertain when to begin a certain type of exercise or activity.

Most patients sail through recovery with no issues at all other than minor eye irritation and having to adjust to the new clear lens. If you are doing both eyes, you can benefit from wearing a contact lens in the untreated eye until that cataract is removed.

If you run into anything that is concerning to you please don’t hesitate to call. We can be reached 24 hours a day at 310-208-3937.

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