Asma had a perfect cataract surgery and she was truly enjoying the world with the clearer and brighter vision. She felt lively and young again. 5 days later I received a call from her and she was wondering if she could apply an eyeliner and mascara on her eyes as she had to attend a wedding! I can understand her dilemma! Now whether it is women like Asma or it is busy professionals and business owners, everyone is in a hurry to get back to their old life style as soon as possible. The good news for these people is that after modern cataract surgery there is minimal after care required and most people recover and can go back to work within a few days after their procedure. However there are some do’s and don’ts that people have to understand when considering their cataract surgery.
Do’s and don’ts and the care needed after cataract surgery- General aftercare measures
- On the day of cataract surgery, it is better to avoid driving or watch TV or read, and it is better to just rest at home
- In the first week after cataract surgery, a protective eye wear like a goggle or transparent wrap around glasses is recommended to be worn for all waking hours
- To avoid any pressure on freshly operated eye, an eye shield should be applied over the operated eye at night while sleeping for one week
- No dirty water or dust and dirt should enter the eye for the first 2-3 weeks, so better to take the body bath below the chin and wipe the face with clean wet towel. Women may need to wash their hair carefully in the first 2-3 weeks. Dirty water or soap/ shampoo from hair washing should not enter the eyes
- Eye drops needs to be instilled as advised after the cataract surgery
- Excessive bending or heavy weight lifting should be avoided for one week
- Refrain from rubbing or touching your eye in the first month after the cataract surgery
Specific situations after the cataract surgery and its effect on recovery time
- Returning back to work– Most people recover and see well enough next day after cataract surgery. Vision is clear enough to go to work. However returning to work for some people may mean very busy schedules and not enough time to care for the operated eyes and instill eye drops after the cataract operation. If you are one of those then it is better to avoid going to work for a few days. For women professionals, eye makeup is not advisable for 2-3 weeks after the cataract surgery.
- Outdoor activities and traveling by air– Doing outdoor activities like shopping, traveling, meeting friends etc is all fine as long as you avoid crowded and dusty places. Taking a flight after cataract surgery is not a problem and can be planned within a few days after cataract surgery. Keep your eye drops in the hand bag so that eye drops can be instilled during flight after cataract surgery as well. Remember an AC environment can cause dry eye, hence putting drops regularly is important. If you are light sensitive after the cataract operation it is better to wear sunglasses when you are outdoors.
- Exercising– It is better to avoid exerting yourself too much which includes activities like bending over, carrying heavy loads or performing strenuous exercises for the first 2 weeks after cataract treatment. Leave that 21 km marathon for the next few months, and take a break from carrying the grandchildren for 2 to 3 weeks!
- Showering and head wash- In the first month after the cataract surgery it is better to avoid getting soap water in your eye. It is recommended to not swim, not use a hot tub or visit a sauna or spa. This is because there is a small cut in the eye after cataract operation, and it should not get contaminated.
- Driving- After cataract surgery, driving is fine even next day after surgery. However it is important to ensure that there is proper balance between the two eyes after cataract surgery. Sometimes the recovery time is a few weeks and it takes time for balance to get restored. Secondly it is important to ensure that vision is clear enough for driving. It is better to let someone drive you around if you don’t feel comfortable driving yourself. Also protect eye against direct wind or AC air into the eyes while driving after cataract operation.
- Use of eye drops– Eye drops are prescribed for about a month to prevent infection and reduce inflammation. If you were to go out, make sure you have access to hand hygiene facilities so that you can clean your hands before you instill your eye drops. Sometimes to reduce the feeling of scratchiness, which is fairly common in the first few months after cataract surgery, lubricating drops are advised for 3-4 months as an aftercare measure.
- New Glasses – You may find that your pre-existing spectacles are not right anymore after the cataract operation. This is because the power of your operated eye has changed. Also it depends on the type of lens that is put in the eye. A monofocal lens which is adjusted for distance will reduce your need for distance power. A multifocal lens may reduce the need as well as the power of glasses for both distance and reading glasses. A new lens called trifocal lens gives good vision for near, middle and far vision. Usually the full recovery and stabilization of eye power in the operated eye takes 1 month. One month after cataract surgery fresh power for glasses can be prescribed if required.
- Follow up visits– Very few follow ups are required after the cataract surgery. Most cataract surgeons will call you 2-3 times after the cataract treatment in the first one month. At one month of cataract operation, a final check up is done and glass power is prescribed. However if you experience any of these symptoms you should immediately visit your doctor:
- Sudden deterioration of vision.
- Excessive redness or discharge from the operated eye.
- Sudden onset of flashes or floaters after cataract surgery
- Severe eye pain or headache that is not relieved by medication.
Modern day best cataract surgery is a quick and a painless procedure. Most patients return to work and normal activities very quickly. The best way to ensure successful and uncomplicated recovery period is to follow cataract surgeon’s instructions. It is wise to not compare your recovery with your spouse or neighbor as every person’s healing time may be different and hence each person’s recovery time after cataract treatment is slightly different. Overall health, healing ability and tolerance to cataract eye surgery can vary from person to person and from eye to eye.