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Do’s & Don’ts After Cataract Surgery

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An elderly female preparing for cataract surgery

Cataracts can negatively impact your vision if not diagnosed and treated correctly. One of the only ways to fully provide relief for cataracts is through cataract surgery. Generally considered safe and effective, cataract surgery can be co-managed by your Aurora Eye Care optometrist

It’s vital to understand how cataract surgery works and what you need to do to ensure long-term success after surgery. This includes how to protect your eyes and what to avoid following surgery.

What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts are a common eye condition caused by a clouding of the ordinarily-clear inner lens of the eye. Cataracts are caused by protein changes in the lens, which can cause vision to appear cloudy and dim. 

The lens is an essential part of your vision since it helps focus light on your retina. When we’re younger, the lens is flexible to adapt to changes in light angles. As we age, the lens becomes rigid and inflexible, making it difficult to focus. As further aging occurs, cataracts develop, and significant vision changes occur.

Some common symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Cloudy or dimmer vision
  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Frequent prescription changes
  • Difficulty with low-light vision
  • Colours appearing yellow or faded
  • Seeing rings or halos around lights

Cataracts are a normal part of the aging process. Cataract symptoms usually begin developing around the age of 40, though a cataract may not be noticeable until around the age of 60. While cataracts develop with age, some people may be more at risk of developing premature cataracts, including people who:

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Live in polluted areas
  • Drink alcohol frequently
  • Have a genetic history of cataracts
  • Have diabetes
  • Take certain medications, including steroids
  • Have a history of trauma to the eye

Cataract surgery is the primary treatment to help patients overcome cataracts.

How Does Cataract Surgery Work?

Cataract surgery removes your existing lens and replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). The surgical procedure begins with your doctor making an incision in your cornea. After making the incision, your doctor uses a high-frequency ultrasound device to break up the cloudy lens to make them easy-to-remove.

After removing the pieces of your old lens from the eye, your doctor replaces it with the IOL. Afterward, your doctor will close the incision and place a protective, contact-like shield over the eye to promote healing. 

A senior man smiling

What to Do After Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery generally takes about 15 minutes; however, you should expect to the at your appointment for around 2 hours. You need to take a few key steps to protect your eyes and ensure success following your surgery.

Protect Your Eyes

You will likely receive detailed instructions about surgical aftercare before your appointment and immediately afterward. Your doctor will provide you with a protective eye shield you must wear anytime you’re asleep for about a week after surgery. You will also receive a special pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet light.

Avoid Strenuous Activity

Strenuous activity can include running, working out, or lifting heavy objects over 25 pounds. You should avoid these activities because they increase your risk of complications after surgery. Think of your recovery as similar to any other surgery—rest, and the results will come.

Follow Aftercare Recommendations

Your doctor will provide you with medicated eye drops and instructions on how often to use them. It’s essential you follow these instructions carefully to ensure your eyes heal correctly. You will likely need to follow this aftercare regimen for several weeks following surgery.

What to Avoid After Cataract Surgery

There are a few activities to avoid following cataract surgery. It’s important to avoid activities that could increase your risk of complications like infections or increased healing time.

Driving Any Vehicles

You should prepare to have a friend or family member drive you home after your cataract surgery. Your eyes will be sensitive and need time to heal—driving won’t help the healing process. Your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment in the days after your surgery to determine if you’re ready to drive.


Take care when around water like the pool, bathtub, or shower. Even the steam from a hot shower can irritate your eyes and cause complications. It’s best to avoid water for at least 24 hours after surgery and ask your doctor when is the best time to have a shower.

Eye Makeup

If you wear eye makeup, avoid it after surgery. Eye makeup can irritate your eye surface and cause you to rub or itch your eyes, which can cause your IOL to shift during the early healing stages. A fresh face is best for at least a few days following surgery.

Get the Care You Need

Your doctor at Aurora Eye Care can advise you on whether cataract surgery is right for you. Before and after your surgery, your doctor will co-manage every step of the process to ensure you’re comfortable and your treatment is effective. Get in touch with us today to learn if cataract surgery is right for you.

Written by Luis Marquez

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