If you are recovering from cataract surgery, it is important to understand what aspects of your home recovery process are going to ensure a smooth and comfortable experience. Most individuals recover quite quickly from cataract surgery, and can return to their normal activities within a few weeks, but there are some things you should keep in mind as you recover at home. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the post-cataract surgical stages, what your recovery time will look like, what some common symptoms are and how to go about managing them. We will also provide some tips on the do’s and don’ts of recovering at home.
How Long Does Recovery Typically Take for Cataract Surgery?
As with any medical procedure, recovery time varies with each individual, however, there are several stages of the recovery process that most individuals experience. We’ll go into further detail about these stages below, but typically you’ll feel mostly normal within 1-3 days, completely back to normal within 2-5 weeks, and will see the full benefits of the surgery within 3-10 weeks. Resting and allowing your eyes to heal is critical at this time, so you should avoid any strenuous activity, or excessive lifting and bending when possible.
How Long Do I Need to Rest After Cataract Surgery?
For the first few days, try to take things slow, and rest whenever you feel tired. Not only will sleeping help you recover, but your eyes will still be adjusting to the new artificial lenses, so things may still appear blurry, and you may have trouble judging distances properly. This can make simple tasks like going up and down stairs, or pouring hot water, much riskier, so be sure to take your time and ask for help when you need it.
What Are The Stages of Post-Cataract Surgery Recovery?
As mentioned earlier, there are several recovery stages that most people will experience while recovering from cataract surgery. These are the initial day, a few days afterward, and the following weeks, and each comes with a host of restrictions and recommendations.
- Initial day. This stage starts immediately following your surgery with an eye drop prescription from your doctor to fight against inflammation, infection, and eye pressure irregularities. It won’t be safe for you to travel alone, so you’ll be required to have a family member take you home, where it is recommended that you sleep and rest your eyes as much as possible. Within a few hours, you should feel comfortable enough to watch TV or look at a computer screen for short periods.
- A few days afterward. Over the next 1-3 days, your vision will appear blurry, or imbalanced if you haven’t had your other eye operated on yet, but will slowly clear up over this time period. Your eye may feel itchy and mildly uncomfortable, as this is the norm, but you should avoid touching it entirely. You will likely have been provided an eye patch or protective shield by your doctor to wear at night, or during the day if you feel the need for that as well. Any discomfort should fade as your vision clears.
- Following weeks. Full recovery is expected within the first month following cataract surgery, but it may take longer for your vision to finish improving. Typically, your vision will continue to improve for up to 10 weeks following your procedure until it finally stabilizes.
What Symptoms Should I Expect to Have Along the Way?
Side effects while recovering from cataract surgery are expected, but minor, and are usually just cosmetic. Initially, you will notice your vision is blurry while your eyes adjust to the new lens, then as your vision clears, it may appear wavy or distorted for 1-2 hours. For the first few days, your eyes may appear red and bloodshot due to the damaged blood vessels. Additionally, the skin underneath your eye may appear bruised if you received an anesthesia injection there. These should fade quickly, and you should be able to see clearly within a week or two. Finally, your eye may feel dry or scratchy following your surgery, and unless you already had issues with dry eyes, this should also clear up as you recover.
How Do I Manage These Symptoms?
Luckily, symptom management is as simple as using the medicines your doctor prescribes and/or recommends to you. This may include eye drops and pain relievers to fend off infection and inflammation, while also eliminating as much discomfort as possible.
The Do’s and Don’ts Of At-Home Recovery
Although you may feel well enough to resume your regular activities within the first 24 hours of recovering from cataract surgery, there are still several guidelines you should stick to in order to avoid complications and minimize your recovery time.
- Go slow and rest often. As mentioned earlier, your vision will be off, so simple tasks may carry increased risk now. Sleep and ask for help when you need it.
- Keep away from dust. Airborne allergens may greatly irritate your eye while it recovers, so ensure your living space has been well-vacuumed and cleaned.
- Use medicine as prescribed. Again, these are there to help manage pain, and to prevent infection and inflammation, so follow your doctor’s instructions, or get someone to help you if you’re struggling.
- Perform rigorous activities. Any excessive lifting and bending can put extra pressure on your eye, risking harm and elongating your recovery time.
- Drive. You won’t be able to see clearly for a while, so wait until your doctor says you’re safe to drive again.
- Touch your eye. Even without surgery, touching or rubbing your eye runs a higher risk of infection.
- Swim. Water, soap, and other substances will likely irritate your eye, elongating the recovery process and risking complications.
- Wear make-up. Make-up, cleansers, and moisturizers can all irritate the eyes, so it’s best to avoid using them until your doctor clears them as safe.
What You Should Consider With Sleep, Face-Washing, and Diet
Following your surgery, you will likely need to adjust how you sleep, wash and/or eat, to avoid complications and minimize your recovery time. Wearing an eye shield at night is the best way to prevent yourself from accidentally rubbing your eye while you sleep. This will avoid any accidental injury while you’re recovering, as well as avoid the potential for infections.
Washing will require you to avoid getting water directly in your eye, so washing your face with a cloth is recommended, while avoiding rubbing your eye with it. Continue to be diligent with this throughout your recovery until your doctor says it’s safe to do otherwise. Finally, avoid eating junk foods, and instead opt for a healthy mix of fiber-rich whole foods, lean proteins, and leafy green vegetables, as this will continue to aid with recovery.
Wrapping it Up
There is a lot to keep in mind when recovering from cataract surgery, but the results outweigh the relatively trivial changes you’ll have to endure for a short period of time. Sticking to your doctor’s directions and taking things slow and steady will greatly aid in the recovery process, setting you well on your way to clear vision and a tremendous improvement in your quality of life. If you want to know if cataract surgery is right for you, consult with your cataract surgeon in Orlando today.