My top five tips for a speedy recovery after cataract surgery

If you want to experience a speedy recovery after cataract surgery, you’ll be interested in reading this post. In it, I discuss my five top tips that help my patients recover from cataract surgery as swiftly as possible. They include:

  1. Don’t panic before or after your cataract surgery.
  2. Know what drops you have to take and when.
  3. Expect your eye to feel gritty after cataract surgery.
  4. Do enjoyable things in the weeks after cataract surgery.
  5. Book your follow-up visits at the same time as you book your cataract surgery.

1. Don’t panic!

Cataract surgery is almost always carried out on one eye at a time. People can still function relatively well with one eye, and you do not have to stay at home for the whole four weeks after surgery when you need to be taking your drops. Day-by-day, your vision will recover, and you will start to notice new clarity in your vision and vividness of the colours around you. I often find that patients are much more relaxed when it comes to having the operation on their second eye. At this point they know what to expect and it’s never as bad you imagine it to be.

2. Know what drops you have to take (and when) after cataract surgery

Don’t be afraid to ask the surgical team at the hospital if you are still not sure what drops you have to take and how often. I operate on patients with routine cataracts who have no other eye problems and also on patients who have advanced glaucoma and other serious eye problems. The advice and instructions are different in each case so you will never be asking a “silly question” or be expected just to know what to do. It is good practice for the instructions to be written down and for them to be explained to you face to face before you leave the hospital. If you are confused or unsure please just ask. As a surgeon, I would rather you were absolutely clear about the drops rather than you becoming anxious at home because something was unclear or causing you worry.

3. Expect your eye to feel gritty after cataract surgery

Modern cataract surgery is highly technical and skilled but it is still an operation, and you will feel like you have had a procedure in your eye. It is completely normal for the eye to feel gritty like the feeling of sand in your eye for several days after surgery. Use the drops as instructed and take paracetamol or your normal painkillers to help you through the first few days if you need to. Try not to compare how your eyes feel after surgery with other friends or family members who have had the same procedure. We all heal slightly differently after surgery. Even the experience of the first and second eye in the same patient can be different in the days after surgery. We do not expect you to have severe eye pain or swelling and this should always be reported to your specialist immediately.

4. Do enjoyable things in the weeks after cataract surgery

There are very few absolute no-nos after surgery. For example, most surgeons advise that you cannot swim for 3-4 weeks after surgery to reduce the risk of infection. We do not say that you must sit at home with only yourself for company. It is fine to do things that you enjoy in the weeks after surgery. As long as these activities do not stop you from putting in your drops, they are perfectly safe. I often get asked “when can I drive” and the official answer is as soon as you can read a number plate at the required distance and are sure that the operated eye is not interfering with the other eye. The DVLA do not specify a time and rely on people to be sensible and obey the normal vision requirements for driving a car.

5. Book your follow-up visits at the same time as you book your cataract surgery

Everyone is different when it comes to follow-up appointments. Routine cases are often seen once only at 3-4 weeks after surgery. Cataract surgery in patients who have glaucoma and have micro stents, laser treatments or functioning trabeculectomies need more frequent follow-ups. It is advisable to know this before your operation so that you can plan accordingly. Proper follow-up consultations are critical to the success of any cataract operation so make sure you discuss your requirements with your specialists so that you know what to expect.

Follow my tips and you’ll maximise your chances of a speedy recovery after cataract surgery

In summary, cataract surgery will probably not be as bad as you might imagine it to be. As long as you know what drops you need to take and when, manage your expectations around how your eyes will feel, and remember to resume your normal life after cataract surgery, you should recover swiftly. One excellent way to prepare is to book all of your follow-up visits at the same time as you book your cataract surgery. After that, all you’ll have to do is focus on enjoying your improved vision and all of the freedom and joy it can bring.