At some point after age 50, most people will develop age-related cataracts. Cataracts typically develop gradually and vision problems may not occur for many years. But eventually cataracts will cause symptoms like cloudy or blurry vision, difficulties driving at night, or even perceiving colors as dull or yellowish. When declining vision due to cataracts begins to affect everyday life, doctors usually recommend cataract surgery, which involves removing the natural lens of the eye that is clouded by a cataract and replacing it with an artificial lens known as an intraocular lens, or IOL.
Of course despite the fact that uncomplicated cataract surgery is fast (the procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes), safe, and effective, surgery of any kind can make the most stalwart among us feel anxious. But knowing what to expect in the days and weeks following cataract surgery may help relieve any uneasy feelings.
What to expect immediately after surgery
- While the procedure itself is quick, and usually performed on an outpatient basis, you will probably need to rest in a recovery area for about an hour after surgery.
- You will need someone to drive you home after cataract surgery. You should not drive yourself until your eye doctor tests your vision and confirms that it is safe for you to do so.
- Your doctor will likely ask you to wear an eye patch or protective shield on the day of surgery and for a few days afterwards. It prevents you from rubbing or touching the eye and it also provides protection from dust and other particles.
- You will be sent home with eye drops and/or other medications to help prevent infection and reduce inflammation. It is important to use them as prescribed for the best possible outcome.
What about over the next few days?
- It is possible that you may feel itching and mild discomfort after the procedure. Some people describe feeling a sensation of having a “scratchy” eye. You should feel better within a few days time.
- While some people report experiencing clear vision within hours of surgery, everyone heals differently. For most, it takes a little time to adjust to the new IOL. You may experience blurry vision at first while your eye heals and adjusts.
- You may develop a red or “bloodshot” eye, but as it heals the redness will go away. This usually takes a few days.
- Your doctor will probably want to see you for a follow-up visit the day after your surgery or within a few days time.
What about the next few weeks?
- You may feel good and want to resume normal activities as early as the day after cataract surgery, but it’s important to follow your doctor’s orders. Most doctors will advise that you avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activities for a few weeks after surgery.
- Your doctor will probably want to see you again for another follow-up appointment about a month after your surgery to confirm that you are healing properly.
- You may begin to notice that colors appear brighter. This is because you are now looking through a transparent lens. You may have become accustomed to the yellowish/brownish tint caused by cataract and the bright colors may be surprising.
- In the weeks after cataract surgery, your doctor will be able to determine if you will need to wear glasses after surgery and at what strength. Most people will need glasses at least some of the time. This depends on the type of intraocular lens you receive and what your prescription was before surgery.
- You can typically expect to be completely healed in about 8 weeks.
Cataract surgery successfully restores vision in most people who have the procedure. It is one of the most commonly performed surgeries worldwide.
If you are considering cataract surgery, be sure to learn as much as you can about the different intraocular lens options. Learn more about the IC-8 lens for cataract surgery in your area.
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