With phacoemulsification and foldable lens implants, surgical incisions are very small, and no sutures are required. If all goes well, you'll heal fast and your vision will start to improve within a few days. If your surgery requires a larger incision and sutures, full healing can take up to eight weeks.
Normally you can go home on the same day of your surgery, but you won't be able to drive, so make sure to arrange for a ride home. It's also a good idea to make sure you have necessary help because your doctor may limit activities such as bending and lifting for a few days. You'll typically see your eye doctor the next day, the following week and then again after a month so that he or she can check the healing progress.
It's normal to feel itching and mild discomfort for a couple of days after surgery. Avoid rubbing or pressing on your eye. Clean your eyelids with tissue or cotton balls to remove any crusty discharge. You may wear an eye patch or protective shield the day of surgery. Your doctor may prescribe medications to prevent infection and control eye pressure. After a couple of days, all discomfort should disappear. Often, complete healing occurs within eight weeks.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms after cataract surgery:
- Vision loss
- Pain that persists despite the use of over-the-counter pain medications
- Increased eye redness
- Light flashes or multiple spots (floaters) in front of your eye
- Nausea, vomiting or excessive coughing
If you have cataracts in both eyes, your doctor will treat one eye at a time, and it's usually a month or two before you can schedule surgery for the other eye.
Following the day of surgery:
Please note: The above guide is to be used for reference only. Please follow the specific medical advice of your doctor.
Recovering from cataract surgery
- Try not to touch or rub your eye.
- Keep soap and shampoo out of your eyes (it's sensible to avoid washing your hair for the first few days).
- In the first few weeks after the operation, avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise as this can increase the pressure in your eye and could put a strain on your healing scar.
- If you suffer more than mild pain, or you experience loss of vision or increasing redness of your eye, you should contact your hospital for advice.
After the operation
Risks of cataract surgery
- After phacoemulsification, the lens casing that is left in the eye to support the implant may thicken and become cloudy. This is called posterior capsular opacification and begins gradually, usually months or years after the operation. It results in reduced vision similar to a cataract. A relatively simple laser treatment can be used to correct it.
- The lens capsule may tear, which can result in reduced vision.
- A bit of the lens with the cataract may be displaced into the back of the eye, requiring another operation to remove it.
- You may have bleeding inside your eye.
- The implant may dislocate, requiring a further operation.
Your retina may be damaged during the operation, which could make you blind in that eye, but this is rare.
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