Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cataract surgery - What do I do after surgery?

Many people know someone who has had cataract surgery.  We frequently have patients who come to our ambulatory surgery center with a pre-conceived notion of how their recovery is going to limit their activities.  Not so!  Today, cataract surgery is performed using a small incision that will heal within a couple of days allowing patients to resume normal activities usually within one week.

After your surgery you will most likely have a patch and shield on your eye.  This is because your eye has been given an anesthetic to make it numb and the shield helps to protect it from becoming irritated or dry.  You will only need to wear it until late afternoon on the day of your surgery.  After you take it off you will start a series of eye drops that help to prevent swelling and infection as prescribed by your doctor. 

The eye shield will be worn over your eye at night for one week to help prevent possibly rubbing the eye or scratching it on your sheets. Some mild itching or discomfort may occur which is normal.  It is very important that you DO NOT rub your eye!  Tylenol is suggested as a pain reliever for any discomfort you may have. 

On the day of surgery, when you remove the shield at home, you may find that your eyesight is still somewhat blurry or you may experience double vision.  This is not unusual and is the result of a combination of the anesthetic agent and the dilating drops which were put into your eye before the surgery began.  This sensation should resolve over the course of the evening. 

You will be given a pair of sunglasses at your first surgery in the ambulatory surgery center.  These are designed for you to be able to wear over your glasses or shield.  They can still be worn after your recovery if you so desire.  If you are going to have cataract surgery on the other eye, we ask that you be sure to hang onto your glasses for use after that surgery.

Following your surgery you should not bend over with your head below your waist. That is, do not try to pick up anything from the floor as this can create pressure to your newly operated eye.  The bending and stooping restriction will be reevaluated at your follow up appointment with your surgeon the next day, but usually you are allowed to resume normal activities within a week.

You should refrain from any strenuous exercise or attempting to lift heavy objects that may cause you to strain or "bear down" for approximately 10 days.  However, you may go up and down stairs, read or watch T.V.  

When you shower do not let water into your eyes either directly or from run off your head.  You may wade into a pool if you would like, but you will be asked to refrain from swimming or immersing your head under water for at least 10 days.

You should be able to drive within a day or two after your surgery, but ask your doctor for his recommendation!

You will be using eye drops for about a month after the surgery to ensure that your eye heals completely.
It is important to remember that everyone and every eye is unique and your healing time may vary. 
Guest Blogger
Katie Guglietta R.N., ASC Manager with the Baltimore Washington Eye Center