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Dos and Don’ts After Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery can make a huge difference to your quality of life, improving your vision and allowing you to continue with day-to-day activities. The procedure is one of the safest in the world and is highly successful for most patients. However, in order to guarantee a smooth recovery and the best results, there are some important dos and don’ts after cataract surgery that you should keep in mind.

Dos after cataract surgery

Use eye drops as prescribed

At Moorfields Private, the cost of your cataract surgery will typically include your take-home medication. You will be given eye drops after cataract surgery, which will prevent infection and aid with recovery. Make sure you use these as advised, administering them with clean hands to the treated eye.

Your consultant will advise when you should start using your eye drops, but this will usually be the morning after the procedure. You should continue using them until your post operative consultation, when your consultant will advise when you can stop.

Rest and avoid strenuous activity

As cataract surgery has such a high success rate when performed precisely, you may notice your vision improving not long after the procedure. However, it’s very important that you take it easy and rest for the first two or three days following the operation.

During this time, avoid doing strenuous activities, such as housework or exercise after cataract surgery. This will give your eyes the time they need to heal. You can still enjoy reading, watching TV and using your computer during this time. Your consultant will advise exactly how long you should refrain from strenuous activity.

Wear eye shield or glasses outside

Using a protective eye shield will help your eyes to heal. You should use these for at least a week following the procedure, and your consultant will be able to advise you further.

Make sure you wear your eye shield especially at night to prevent you from rubbing your eyes in your sleep. It’s also advised that you wear your shield or sunglasses when outdoors after your cataract surgery to prevent wind, pollen and sunlight from irritating your eye.

Take painkillers if you need them

Your cataract surgery is likely to be painless, but it’s normal for patients to experience feelings of soreness, grittiness and watering in their eye after the procedure.

Thankfully, these shouldn’t last for long but if you want to alleviate these symptoms, then over-the-counter painkillers can help. You can use painkillers such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, along with your prescribed eye drops, to relieve any discomfort during the early recovery period.

Shower and bathe as usual

You’ll be able to shower and take a bath as usual after cataract surgery. Just remember to avoid any water or irritants, such as shampoo or soap, getting into your eye. We advise wiping your face with water rather than splashing water onto your face for the first 2 weeks.

To wash your treated eye, you should allow boiled water to cool. Use gauze or cotton wool and dip it into the water before gently wiping over your eye from the inside to the outside corner. Avoid washing your eye out with water, wiping the inside or putting any pressure on your eye. Remember to wash your hands before cleaning your eye. Your consultant will be able to advise you further on how to keep your eye clean while it recovers.

Don’ts after cataract surgery

Don’t drive home after your surgery

You should avoid driving after cataract surgery. This means you may need to arrange for someone to drive you home after your operation.

You won’t be able to drive after cataract surgery until you meet the DVLA requirements for vision (being able to read a number plate at 20.5 meters with both eyes open). Your eyes should take around three to four days to recover to this point. During your post operative appointment, your consultant will be able to check your vision and let you know when you can start driving again.

Don’t rub your eyes while they’re healing

While it may be tempting to rub your eyes after cataract surgery, this can affect your healing and lead to an increased risk of infection. Try to avoid touching your eyes as much as possible in the early recovery stage.

Don’t wear eye makeup for the first few weeks

Even if you apply it with the greatest care, there’s always a risk that particles from your eye makeup can end up getting into your healing eye. Not only will this be an irritant, but it can potentially result in an infection too.

It’s recommended that you avoid wearing eye makeup after cataract surgery for around four weeks. Your consultant will check on your recovery process during your post operative appointment and can advise you on when you’ll be able to start applying cosmetics to your eye area again.

Don’t get irritants in your eye

Makeup particles aren’t the only potential irritant for your eye. Various things can affect your eye while it’s at its most sensitive in the healing process, including soap, dust, smoke, wind, pollen and sunlight.

To avoid this, remember to wear your eye shield, plain glasses or sunglasses where appropriate. This is particularly helpful when outside in the first few days after your procedure. Additionally, try not to do any housework or cooking after cataract surgery for the first two weeks. If you cannot avoid this, wear your eye shield to reduce the risk of irritation and infection.

Don’t swim, use a hot tub or sauna

While you can shower and bathe relatively normally after cataract surgery, you should avoid using swimming pools, saunas or hot tubs while you heal. This is because water can carry bacteria which can potentially lead to an infection in your eye.

It’s recommended that you don’t swim for between four to six weeks following your operation. In addition to the risk of irritants and infection, swimming after cataract surgery is counted as a strenuous activity. You can ask your consultant for further information on when you can start swimming again after the procedure.

How long are you off work after cataract surgery?

When it comes to returning to work after cataract surgery, this will depend on a variety of factors. These include your occupation, recovery, and whether or not you require new glasses after surgery. Patients are usually recommended to wait around three days before going back to work after their operation. However, those with more physically demanding jobs may need longer to recover.

At Moorfields Private, your cataract surgery cost includes post operative appointments. During these, your consultants will check on your recovery progress and will be able to recommend when you can return to normal activities, such as work, housework and exercise.

Kamran Saha

Written in association with

Mr Kamran Saha

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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