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Recovering from a Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery involves removing the lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial one. The surgery takes place when the natural lens develops opacification, which affects the visibility of the eye. An intraocular lens is placed that helps with focusing power of your sight. The surgery only takes place if the eyesight has deteriorated to the extent that your everyday activities are affected and cannot be performed properly. The condition is prevalent in adults over the age of 50 but it sometimes affects youngsters and infants as well.  Cataracts develop slowly over a long period and its early symptoms include difficulty in reading, blurred vision and experiencing unexplainable glare. 

The surgery is simple and you should ideally expect a smooth recovery after the procedure. Of course, it is recommended that the patient takes all necessary steps in ensuring that post-surgery care is taken care of. After the surgery, the surgeon will provide the patient instructions and a checklist to follow. As long as all directions are followed and follow-up visits are regularly done, there shouldn’t be any need to worry.

Most cataract surgeries are brief, straightforward and uncomplicated. Ideally, the procedure should take 10 minutes after the patient is given anesthesia and the necessary pre-surgery conditions are checked. After the surgery, the patients are taken to a recovery room until they recover from the anesthesia and their grogginess has lessened. This should take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to happen.

Once the patient’s sleepiness has worn off, they can be taken home. Of course, they should not attempt to drive home by themselves and should be accompanied by an attendant to get them home safely. The hospital usually provides a pair of sunglasses to the patient that they have to wear on their journey home to protect themselves from glare and any bright light they might encounter.

It is possible that if you’ve had cataract surgery, you’ll find yourself dizzy till quite some time. When you’ve reached home and are in a state like this, we recommend you go to bed and rest for a few hours. This will prevent any eye strain and give you time to recover from the effects of anesthesia. You’d have a protective shield over your eye, after the procedure. You can remove this shield within a few hours, conditional to the directions given to you by the surgeon. While resting, you will have to put back the shield on your eye for a week or two.

Recovery Time of a General Cataract Surgery

Right after the surgery, most patients experience cloudy and blurred vision, especially after they’ve just removed the protective eye-shield. If you experience something similar, you should know that it is completely normal. Your vision is trying to adjust itself to the absence of the cataract and presence of a foreign body, which is an intraocular lens within your eye. Patients are likely to have distorted vision in the form of waves. This distorted vision is short-lived and usually doesn’t exceed more than 2 to 3 hours.

The process causes temporary damage to the sclera, which refers to the white area of the eye. As a result, the eyes can look blood-shot, red and swelled. The redness should disappear in a few days times as healing kicks in and the cells in the eye recovers.

If there is bruising on the lower area of your eye that resembles a black-eye, you don’t need to be alarmed. It is momentary and should be gone in 2 to 3 days if not more. The bruising is caused by anesthesia injection given to surgery patients through the skin.

As mentioned earlier, cataract surgery is usually fuss-free and quick. Several patients have reportedly experienced a clear vision within the same day after the process. If that doesn’t happen to you, be patient. We all have different bodies and our recovery time may differ more or less. In some instances, it has taken people up to 2 weeks to see things and with a sharp focus.

There is usually a post-surgery appointment scheduled right after the surgery. The checkup aims to confirm that there are no complications and suggest any remedies or additional directives that may be required based on the condition of your eye. If you experience pain and think that your vision is not getting better, consult your eye surgeon immediately.

It is common to experience ‘dry eyes’ or slight discomfort in your eyes and to combat it, doctors usually suggest an eye drop that provides the necessary moisture to the eye. The dry eye, again, is a temporary sensation and should diminish given you are taking all the recommended medicines regularly. You can expect a full recovery from a cataract surgery within a month as long as there are no hitches within that period.

How To Ensure Full Recovery

Although several patients’ vision clarifies immediately after the surgery, some precautions should be taken to ensure a full recovery. To begin with, you will be prescribed antibiotics especially in the form of eye drops. As per the instructions of the surgeon, you will have to use the eye drops religiously within the first few weeks to prevent inflammation and infections. Again, the frequency of the eye drops will be prescribed by the surgeon, also.

Apart from eye drops, oral medicines such as acetaminophen may be given. These medicines act as pain-relievers but may not eliminate post-surgery discomfort you may feel.

Here are a couple of guidelines that you should keep in mind for recovering from a cataract surgery

1.       Avoid driving immediately after surgery

2.       Strenuous activity and lifting anything heavy should be avoided

3.       Bending over can cause strain to your eye, therefore don’t attempt it.

4.       Try not to sneeze or vomit after the surgery

5.       You may experience blurred vision and bump into objects when walking around. Be careful.

6.       You may be susceptible to infections after the surgery. Therefore, don’t swim or use a hot tub during the recovery time.

7.       Keep away from dust, wind, and pollen.

8.       Avoid rubbing your eyes.

If you have cataracts in both eyes, the surgeon will remove them one by one at an interval of 2 to 3 weeks. Very few people experience complications after the procedure which may occur as a result of high blood pressure or diabetic conditions.

One common complication which affects cataract patients is posterior capsular opacification (PCO). This condition refers to experiencing long-term cloudiness after the surgery and can be taken care of using a laser procedure, posterior capsulotomy.

Another common occurrence that may happen after the procedure is eye inflammation called endophthalmitis. This is caused by an eye infection and therefore patients should strictly follow the post-op procedure to prevent it from happening.