Recovering from cataract surgery 

Depending on the type of anaesthetic you have had, it may take a few hours for feeling to return to the eye, and the vision may be blurry until the next day.

The plastic shield over your eye can be removed next day: I recommend you wear it at night for the first week to stop you accidentally rubbing the eye when asleep.

The drops you have been given are important to protect the eye from infection and promote healing: please start using these the morning after surgery, and continue with them until your follow-up appointment.

Take it easy for the first two or three days after surgery. The following are normal side-effects:

  • mild pain or grittiness in and around your eye
  • an itchy or sticky eye
  • blurred vision
  • very slight headache
  • bruising of the skin around the eye
  • discomfort when looking at bright lights

These should improve within a few days, and over-the-counter painkillers – such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – will help; sunglasses will alleviate light-sensitivity.

Activities

Gentle activity such as walking is fine. Watching TV, reading, or working on a computer will not do any harm.

However, for the first week:

  • avoid strenuous activities, such as lifting heavy objects.
  • avoid touching, rubbing or knocking your eye
  • keep soap and shampoo out of your eyes
  • avoid wearing eye make-up

and for the first month:

  • avoid swimming
  • avoid contact sports

Most people can return to work after a few days; but if your job is physically strenuous or involves working in dusty or hazardous environments, then two weeks off is safer.

Driving

Up to 90% of people who have cataract surgery will eventually have a good enough level of vision to start driving again if they don’t have another eye condition.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) states you can start driving again if you can read a number plate 20 metres (about 65.5 feet) away with both eyes open.

Many people who have cataract surgery will need glasses to be able to do this: wait six weeks after surgery before seeing your optometrist, in order to allow the eye to heal fully.

When to seek medical advice

Seek medical advice as soon as possible if you experience:

  • a throbbing or severe pain in or around your eye
  • a severe frontal headache with or without nausea and vomiting
  • a sudden deterioration or loss of vision
  • increasing redness in your eye
  • the sudden appearance of black dots, specks or streaks in your field of vision (floaters) or flashes of light in your eye

These problems may be a sign of a complication of cataract surgery.

If you experience them, please contact my secretary on 01296 316495 during office hours or contact the BMI Chiltern Hospital on 01494 890890, either of whom will contact me.