Patients considering cataract surgery often have questions regarding laser cataract surgery recovery time. That’s because while patients are often able to return to most of their regular activities within 24 hours of the procedure, other elements of cataract surgery recovery can take longer.
In other words, there’s less of a concrete “cataract surgery recovery time” and more of a cataract surgery recovery timeline.
At Eye Center of Texas, our top Houston cataract surgeons provide some of the best cataract surgery services in the nation. These services include helping our patients through the recovery process, which is one reason why we’ve created this guide to how to navigate cataract surgery recovery time.
Read on to discover how long it takes to recover from cataract surgery, what activities you should and shouldn’t do during cataract surgery recovery time, and the ins and outs of cataract surgery aftercare.
Cataract surgery aftercare
All in all, the total cataract surgery recovery time typically winds up being between 6-8 weeks long. During that time, your eyes are healing and adjusting to the removal of the cataract and (frequently) the insertion of an Intraocular Lens(es), commonly referred to as IOLs.
As your eyes recover, you may experience blurred vision during the first few hours and/or days of your cataract recovery time. You may also experience soreness, itchiness, and discomfort. These symptoms should abate within a few hours or days but may take longer to completely disappear.
In the meantime:
- Don’t rub your eyes and, to that end, do your best to avoid allergens and dust
- Maintain only light activity; steer clear of heavy lifting and avoid strenuous exercise
- Do not wear makeup and avoid using lotions and creams on your face
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations with regard to driving, and medication
As noted, your ophthalmologist will likely prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops as well as other medications and/or eye drops that will help your eyes fight infections and stay lubricated. We will cover information regarding driving below.
FAQ: How should I sleep after cataract surgery?
Those looking to reduce cataract surgery recovery time are often concerned about how to sleep after cataract surgery. This concern is natural, especially if you’re a restless sleeper. While you can technically sleep in any position, you may wish to avoid sleeping on the side where you received surgery.
FAQ: How long before vision stabilizes after cataract surgery?
Another question we receive frequently with regard to what to expect after cataract surgery is “When will blurry vision after cataract surgery go away?” The rate at which your vision stabilizes post-op is one of the most personalized aspects of your cataract surgery recovery. It will depend on the health of your eye, the severity of your cataract, the type of lens you choose, and how proactive you are during recovery.
Many patients report clearer vision within a day of surgery, with noticeable improvements within a week. But it may take anywhere between 3–6 weeks for your vision to truly “settle” into its new normal.
Cataract surgery and time off work
Many people put off cataract surgery because they are afraid that cataract surgery recovery time will interfere too much with their work. While some patients — especially those with physically demanding jobs — may need to take off a more extended period of time to let their eye(s) properly recover, most patients are able to return to work between 1–3 days after surgery.
Patients should speak to their ophthalmologists to determine how much time they should request off of work.
Other activities during cataract surgery recovery time
There are some activities which recent cataract surgery patients should avoid during recovery if they wish to preserve the health of their vision. Some of these activities can be resumed in just a few days, while others should be avoided for several weeks.
Here are some guidelines for getting back to more frequently asked about activities, but always make sure to communicate with your doctor about your specific needs.
How soon can I drive after cataract surgery?
Patients will need someone to drive them home directly after their procedure. However, many people can get back behind the wheel as soon as 24 hours after cataract surgery, and we frequently see patients who have driven themselves to their next-day check-up.
That said, the appropriate time to start driving again is entirely dependent on the patient. If you are still experiencing blurry vision 24 hours after your surgery, don’t drive. Speak with your ophthalmologist at your follow-up appointment to help determine when you can get back on the road.
Can I watch TV after cataract surgery?
Directly after cataract surgery, it’s best to let your eyes rest. Most doctors will recommend that you try to take a nap once you return home from the procedure. Additionally, depending on the health of your eyes and how they react to the procedure, your vision may or may not be too blurry to see details on your TV or computer screen.
However, should you be able to focus on your TV or computer, we recommend keeping screen time to a minimum for at least the first 24 hours post-op. The strain of looking at a screen can be hard on your post-op eyes.
For example, humans blink less frequently when looking at a screen, and since blinking replenishes the protective and lubricative film of tears on your eyes, screen time can increase your chances for eye dryness and irritation as you recover.
When can I exercise after cataract surgery?
It is best to forego strenuous activity for at least one week after cataract surgery. That includes exercise. Specifically, we recommend that you avoid lifting anything that weighs more than 15–20 pounds, exercise that involves bending over, and intensive cardio. Meanwhile, you should feel free to pursue light activity such as walking around the neighborhood or on a treadmill.
When can I go swimming after cataract surgery?
Swimming — even in your own pool — increases your chances of exposing your eyes to harmful bacteria. During cataract surgery recovery time, your eyes are much more vulnerable to infection, making swimming simply too much of a risk for at least the first two weeks post-op, and possibly longer if you’re considering swimming in a public pool.
For more information on when you can consider getting back in the pool — be it your own, a public pool, a water park, hot tub, or sauna — check out our article on swimming after cataract surgery.
When can I cook after cataract surgery?
For whatever reason, when planning for post-op care, patients often overlook the matter of food. That’s why one of the most frequent questions we receive post-cataract surgery is How many days after cataract surgery can you cook?
When possible, it’s best to avoid cooking for about a week after cataract surgery. Doing so reduces your eye’s exposure to steam, heat, and food splatter. If you live alone and need ideas for how to prep for a week without cooking, check out the italicized link directly above.
Have more questions about cataract surgery or cataract surgery recovery time and aftercare? Call Eye Center of Texas.
If you’ve lived with cataracts for a long time (or even for a little while), cataract surgery can be life-changing. To a large extent, the short cataract surgery recovery time allows patients to get up, get out, and get on with life while enjoying their new vision. In the meantime, one of your best resources for information about the recovery process is your ophthalmologist.
Eye Center of Texas is home to some of the leading cataract surgeons in Houston. We have performed well over 80,000 successful cataract surgeries and have helped thousands of people from all over the nation see clearly again. Whether you are considering cataract surgery or are in the middle of the recovery process, Eye Center of Texas is here for you.
Put your vision in the hands of vision experts. To request an appointment, call 713-797-1010 or contact us online today.
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