What Is The Aftercare Following Cataract Surgery
Will my eye be covered after the operation?
Your operated eye will be covered with a protective clear plastic eye shield. Some patients may additionally have an eye pad. If you leave hospital with a pad you will be told when to remove it yourself and when to start to put in your eye drops. The majority of patients are advised to wear the protective plastic eye shield overnight every night for approximately one week.
How soon after the operation do I go home?
After the operation, you will have a chance to have a drink and a snack before the nurse or doctor check with you that you are ready to leave. The nurses will check that you have the postoperative instructions and eye drops and then discharge you from the hospital. This usually takes 30-60 minutes.
How will my eye feel after the operation?
As the anaesthetic wears off, there can be a dull ache or gritty feeling felt in and around your eye. Your eye may also be red, watery and your vision may be very blurred. You can ask the nurse for tablets for pain relief in the hospital if required. You may use your normal pain relieving tablets, such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, when you get home and during the first 24-48 hours.
Your eye usually settles over a few days but the improvement can go on gradually for several weeks after the operation. A slight feeling of grittiness or as if there is a foreign body in your eye can last several months after the operation, as the small wound gradually flattens.
You should seek help immediatley if the pain, redness or blurred vision is getting worse rather than better.
How do I put in the eye drops?
A nurse will teach you how to look after your eye. You will be shown how to clean your eye and put in the eye drops correctly. In some circumstances, family and friends will be taught how to do this so they can help you.
How to put in the drops
- Tilt your head back
- Gently pull down your lower lid with one hand
- Look up and allow drops to fall inside lower lid
- Do not let the tip of the bottle come in contact with your eye
The eye drops help reduce the risk of infection and inflammation after surgery and may be necessary for one to two months.
Is there anything else I have to do to care for my eye?
You should avoid rubbing or touching your eye. This is extremely important in the first one to two weeks after the operation. You might find you are sensitive to light, so it is useful to have a pair of plain dark glasses in case you need them. You can buy these at any chemist or supermarket. The medical and nursing staff will advise you if there are any activities you should avoid. The majority of patients can resume normal physical activity within a day or two. You should be able to return to work the day after your operation, depending on your occupation. If you perform manual work, or a job which requires a lot of use of the eyes, you might require longer. The doctors and nurses in clinic will advise you. Your eye take a few weeks to settle and for best vision to be achieved.
When can I wash my face and hair after the operation?
You are advised to be careful when washing: do not directly splash water into your face in the shower or immerse your head in the bath for one week after surgery, but a clean face cloth can safely be used.
When can I see my optician for an update to my spectacles?
You will be advised about tests for spectacles to improve vision (refraction) at your clinic appointment after the operation, but you can usually have your eyes checked for new glasses by your own optician about four to six weeks after the second eye operation.
During the time until you have your new glasses, or between having the first and the second eye operation, you may experience some vision difficulties especially if there is a big difference in the glasses prescription between the two eyes.
During this time, you may choose to use or not use your old glasses, or for your optician to remove the lens in one side of the glasses, until your final pair of glasses is ready or you have had the operation in both eyes.
Does the cataract recur?
No, but you can develop a thickening or clouding of the posterior capsule membrane behind your new lens implant in the months or years following your surgery. This occurs in approximately 1 in 4 to 1 in 10 cataract surgery patients. This is called posterior capsular opacification and causes blurring of vision.
This is a very common condition and can be treated as an outpatient with a laser procedure, known as YAG laser capsulotomy. This involves one outpatient visit. It is usually very effective, painless and quick, but can very occasionally cause complications such as retinal detachment or waterlogging of the central part of the retina. The risks of YAG laser treatment are smaller than the risks of the original cataract procedure and will be detailed at your consultation.