What to Expect During Cataract Surgery Recovery
Did you know that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness across the globe? If you’re one of the 24.4 million Americans in the United States today who suffer from cataracts, you’re not alone. They’re increasingly common and affect men and women equally as they age.
Anyone who starts to develop cataracts will feel like their vision is increasingly poor, as if they’re looking through a foggy windshield. Cataracts occur when tissue within the lens of our eye breaks down, forming cloudy clumps. If left untreated, it can eventually cause total blindness. Fortunately, cataracts develop slowly and are treatable through cataract surgery.
The Basics of Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery may feel intimidating, but it shouldn’t alarm you. It’s typically done in an outpatient clinic, while the patient is conscious. You’ll need assistance getting home, but you won’t need to stay in the clinic overnight, and should be independently mobile after about 24 hours. Typically, cataract surgery is done one eye at a time, so you still have some vision during the recovery process.
There are two popular types of cataract surgery. The first uses an intense laser called a femtosecond laser to remove the affected lens within the eye. After the lens is removed, an artificial lens is inserted, and a small stitch may be placed to close the incision.
Phacoemulsification is another type of cataract surgery that’s less invasive and has become increasingly popular in recent years. The operating ophthalmologist can make a much smaller incision and is able to use a special tool to emulsify the affected lens. Then, it can be removed by suction rather than through an incision. It’s less invasive, and typically the cataract surgery recovery time is much shorter.
From start to finish, both procedures take less than an hour. You’ll be fully awake, but an anesthetic will ensure you feel relaxed and comfortable.
What to Expect During Recovery
After your cataract surgery is complete, your ophthalmologist will give you a post-operative evaluation, and place a bandage and protective shield over the affected eye. Then you’re free to go home. The positive impact of the surgery may be huge, but the recovery time is generally minimal.
To ensure good results, you need to complete the correct cataract surgery aftercare. To help you prepare for the days and weeks after your procedure, here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about cataract surgery recovery.
Will I have to be driven home after surgery?
You will not be able to drive after surgery, so you must arrange for a ride home in advance. Your vision will start to improve within 24 hours. As soon as you’re able to see clearly from both eyes, you can begin driving again. However, recovery depends on the type of surgery you have, and your individual circumstances. A post-operative appointment with your doctor will confirm that you’re ready to get back on the road.
When can I go back to normal activities?
After your cataract surgery, you should refrain from strenuous physical activities until you’re completely healed. This includes bending, lifting heavy objects, running, and swimming. Your ophthalmologist will likely advise that you avoid these activities for at least one week. After you start feeling less discomfort, and you’re able to see normally, you should be able to resume normal activities.
Will I need to take medication?
After cataract surgery, your eye will be bandaged, and there may be a plastic shield over the top to protect it from damage. Your doctor will likely prescribe medicated eye drops, which you’ll be asked to use daily for the first few weeks after your surgery. These drops help to protect your eye from infection and inflammation and encourage healing.
What other precautions should I take?
After you get home from your surgery, your doctor will suggest that you use your protective eye shield while you sleep. This limits pressure on your healing eye. You also may need to wear special post-operative sunglasses when going outside in bright sunlight.
How Long Will it Take to See Results in Your Vision?
The most exciting part of cataract surgery is the gradual improvement in your vision that you’ll notice post-operation. Most patients’ vision starts to improve within 24 hours.
If you don’t experience an immediate improvement in your vision, don’t worry. Cataract surgery recovery times vary from person to person, and it can take up to 6 weeks for your eye to heal completely. During the recovery time, you may experience some blurred vision, and your eye will feel swollen and red.
Contact a doctor if you don’t notice any improvement in those symptoms within 6 weeks, or if your pain, eye discharge, or vision starts to get worse.
Are you Ready to Improve Your Vision?
If you’ve started to notice that your vision is dimming, clouded, or blurry, you may want to contact an ophthalmologist to discuss cataract surgery. Cost can be a barrier for some, but typically insurance or Medicare will cover a significant percentage of the fees.
As you look for the right ophthalmologist to perform this surgery, remember that experience is key. They should have performed this type of procedure numerous times, and have success stories and testimonials from satisfied patients that they can share with you.
If you’re located in Nevada, the Abrams Eye Institute is a bustling ophthalmology practice that has performed many successful cataracts surgeries on satisfied patients. Schedule an appointment with us today to talk about your eye care needs, and how we can help improve your vision.