What to Expect After Cataract Surgery
There is no surgery in all of medicine in which patients recover faster and easier than cataract surgery! Because I use just eyedrops anesthesia, no injection is given to numb the eye. Thus, I send patients home without even a shield covering their eye.
No Shield. No Patch.
Within about 20 minutes of finishing surgery, patients leave the surgery center and can resume normal activities including walking, reading, bending, working, and lifting. Driving is prohibited the first day because of the sedation that is given. However, it's no problem if patients drive to my office for their postop visit the day after surgery.
Restrictions after Cataract Surgery
My only restrictions are no water or dirt in the eye and no eye makeup for 1 week. Patients can shower the following day, but I prefer that no water get in the eye for 1 week. Closing the eye in the shower is sufficient.
The visual recovery time is extremely rapid, but it depends on the density of the patient's cataract as well as some individual anatomic factors. Patients often remark how much better they see even in the recovery room. However, more common is that on the day of surgery, the vision is a bit cloudy, foggy, or hazy. The vision improves almost daily over the first 1-2 weeks. I recommend operating on the two eyes a week apart which makes the overall recovery time much quicker. We wait about a week after the 2nd eye before giving new glasses.
I recommend starting the postoperative eyedrops three times a day as soon as the patient gets home from surgery. One of the medications helps to make the eye more comfortable. Usually patients have a scratchy feeling in the eye as if there is a piece of sand or a pebble in the eye. This tends to resolve over the first few days. It's VERY unusual for patients to have pain requiring pain medication other than Tylenol or Advil.