Cataract surgery is a safe, effective way to get your vision back after cataracts have developed on one or both of your eyes. Cataract removal surgery is typically recommended if vision loss is keeping you from your normal activity. During cataract surgery, your cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a clear artificial lens called an intraocular lens. The surgery is generally performed on an outpatient basis and usually takes less than 20 minutes — although you should plan on spending about two-and-a-half hours altogether in your eye doctor’s office. The surgery doesn’t involve an extensive recovery time, but because every patient is different, the healing process takes some longer than others. Here’s what you need to know about recovering from cataract eye surgery:

Immediately After Your Procedure

A local anesthesia will be administered to numb the eye area prior to the surgery, and your cataract surgeon may also provide you with medication to help you relax during the cataract procedure. Because of this, you may feel a little groggy afterward, so you’ll probably be asked to wait in a recovery area. Most patients are ready to leave from anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. However, you should make sure to line up a ride home.

Although your eyes won’t be in pain, you may experience a temporary increase in light sensitivity and blurred vision, you may still be groggy. It may take some time for your eyes to adjust after you remove your protective shield before you have clear vision. This adaptation period is a totally normal part of the recovery process. There is typically a follow-up appointment with your eye doctor the next day to make sure there are not any complications with your procedure.

When You Get Home

Many people report feeling tired upon returning home after having cataract surgery, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take a nap if you desire. However, even though it’s usually all right to remove the protective eye shield from your eyes several hours after the surgery, you’ll still need to wear them whenever you sleep.

Don’t be surprised if your vision is more blurry than usual or otherwise distorted after you. Even though some patients say they see clearly almost immediately, others have said that they experience vision issues for up to a week. It’s also common for eyes to be bloodshot after cataract removal, but this should subside within several days. Another possible side effect is a scratchy sensation in the eyes, but this too should only be temporary.

The Following Days

You’ll probably have an appointment with your eye surgeon within the next day or so to determine that the healing process is moving forward as it should, so be sure to mention anything unusual or concerning during this time. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to ask for clarification if you don’t understand the answer.

You’ll likely be prescribed antibiotic eye drops as a layer of protection against infection, and your eye doctor may recommend using an oral pain reliever containing acetaminophen for a day or so after surgery if necessary — however, most people only feel mild discomfort. You should refrain from getting in hot tubs, heavy lifting and strenuous activities.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’d like to discuss cataract surgery further. We can be reached by telephone Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or through our convenient contact form on our website.

Full Recovery & Second Eye

Full recovery from cataract surgery typically takes about four weeks. During the days and weeks following the operation, patients’ vision becomes gradually clearer and more focused as the eye heals.

If you have cataracts in both eyes, your surgeon will operate on one eye first. There will be a second surgery to remove the other clouded lens. Blurry vision will continue for several days after surgery as the first eye adjusts to the new lens. This will be especially pronounced for the first surgically repaired eye, as it will naturally attempt to sync focus with the unrepaired eye.

Some patients may experience blurry vision akin to their preoperative vision years after cataract surgery, the result of “secondary cataracts” that are caused by scar tissue amassing around the lens capsule that holds the replacement lens in place. Undergoing a simple outpatient procedure known as a YAG laser capsulotomy can resolve this issue.

Hear more about Cataract Recovery and Patient Reactions from our doctors

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