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6 Tips to Minimize Cataract Surgery Recovery Time

If you’re gearing up to have cataract surgery in the coming months, you’re probably eager to have the procedure completed and get your (improved) vision back. The good news is that this procedure is known to be nearly painless, and any post-surgery discomfort can be quickly eased by over-the- counter medication and eye drops. The surgery itself usually takes less than an hour from start to finish, and cataract surgery recovery time is minimal.

You can expect to have your sight mostly restored within a day or two. Any lingering irritation should be completely gone within four weeks. With this in mind, there are steps you can take to decrease recovery time even more and experience even less discomfort. Here are some tips for the best possible cataract surgery recovery.

  1. Don’t drive on the first day. This is the first and potentially most important rule. Since your vision will still be compromised on the day of your surgery and the medication given during surgery will impact your judgement and reaction time, driving leaves you vulnerable to mistakes and accidents. Keep yourself (and others on the road) safe by arranging to have a friend or family member take you to and from the cataract surgery center.

  2. Don’t do any heavy lifting or strenuous activity for a few weeks. Even if your eyes feel like they’re back to normal within a few days, don’t be tempted to lift weights or do other strenuous work. For your eyes to repair themselves optimally, they need time to rest. Strenuous activity can create pressure in your optical veins and inhibit healing.

  3. Immediately after procedure, avoid bending over that brings more pressure to the eyes. Just like with strenuous activity, bending over can cause a rush of blood to your head that interferes with your recovering eyes. If you need to pick something up, ask a friend or keep your head upright squat down without lowering your head.

  4. Avoid swimming or use of hot tub for at least the first week to avoid infection. Maybe the only thing worse than lengthening your recovery time by disrupting your eye’s natural healing process is getting an infection. Submerging your head underwater, whether it’s in a hot tub, swimming pool or even plain water, exposes you to heightened risk of infection. You are free to bathe and/or shower after your surgery, as long as you keep your eyes shut and do not allow the water to come into direct contact with your eyes. But stay away from swimming for at least a week, if not two.

  5. Don’t expose your eyes to irritants such as grime, dust, and wind for a couple weeks. If you’re looking for the shortest possible cataract surgery recovery time, be mindful of situations that increase your exposure to irritants. Grime, dust and wind are just more irritants that will lengthen the time it takes for you to recuperate.

  6. Avoid rubbing your eyes or putting yourself in situations that may lead you to sneeze. Sneezing is one of those involuntary reactions that is hard to predict or control, but can put undue strain on your recovering eyes. Even though you may not be able to prevent a sneeze, you can keep yourself out of potentially triggering scenarios. If you have an allergy to cats, for example, avoid going to friends’ homes that you know have cats.

Recovering from cataract surgery is pretty simple; however following these 6 tips will help you minimize the potential risks. If you have any other questions about cataract surgery or recovery, consult your cataract surgeon or feel free to contact us.