There are some common symptoms following surgery, such as blurred vision, a scratchy feeling in the eye, watering, a dull ache over the eyes and sensitivity to bright light – these are all normal and shouldn’t last more than a couple of days. If you experience any aches or pain after surgery we suggest you take painkillers, such as paracetamol, using the recommended dosage. You should avoid aspirin, unless this has been prescribed for you. You can wear sunglasses the day after surgery for light sensitivity, make sure these are cleaned well before wearing.
The most important thing following surgery is to protect the eye from infection and so it is important not to rub or touch the eye.
The eye shield should stay on for the day and night following surgery and it is designed for you to be able to sleep with it on. This can be removed in the morning, the day after surgery, but should be put back on before you go to sleep for the next seven nights, using micropore tape. Remember to wash your hands every time you remove and replace your shield.
You will begin using your prescribed eye drops to reduce inflammation on the day after your surgery.We will explain how and when to use them.
If your eye is sticky and your vision is blurred the day after surgery, or later on, then you can bathe your eye. You will have been given a pack of sterile swabs to use for bathing the eye. You should boil some water (this provides sterilisation), allow this to cool and then bathe the eye with the swab and water.
Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after bathing your eye.
Soak the swab in the cooled water, squeeze to remove excess solution and wipe the eyelids gently from the bridge of the nose outwards once - repeat until the eyelids appear clean
Only use each wipe once and then discard.
Then put the drops in as instructed
We will arrange a post-op appointment 2 to 3 weeks after your surgery, before you leave on your surgery day.
How do I put in the eye drops?
We 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.
1. Tilt your head back
2. Gently pull down your lower lid with one hand
3. Look up and allow drops to fall inside lower lid
4. 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. For more information on how to put eye drops in click button
Post-surgery DOs and DON’Ts
The main thing to consider following eye surgery is to reduce the risk of infection in the eye, so it’s important to avoid any environments or activities that would increase this risk eg dusty gardens and swimming pools. Remember - please don’t rub your eyes, as this may make it sore.
Urgent post-care – If you experience any of the following symptoms following surgery then please call my number below
Throbbing pain in or around your eye
A severe headache with, or without, nausea and/or vomiting
Progressive deterioration of vision in your eye or loss of vision
Increasing redness in your eye with severe pain, sticky discharge or eyelid swelling
Glasses – For most patients your vision will have improved following surgery and you will require a new prescription if you wear glasses.
If you require surgery on one eye only, then you can get new lenses/prescription for your glasses once you’ve had your 4 week post-operative visit.
If you’re having surgery on both eyes, then we recommend you visit your optician after your first eye surgery – they can make a temporary change to your glasses eg pop out lens (they’ll usually do this for free) or replace with non-prescription lens (there may be a small charge for this) if your vision is better in your treated eye.
You should return to see your optician following your 4-week post-op visit to get a new prescription for your glasses.
Sunglasses - wear sunglasses outside in windy weather and/or bright sunlight
Driving – It takes a few days for your eyesight to adjust, so you should wait at least 48 hours after surgery before driving or operating machinery. Please note that you cannot drive until your eyesight meets the legal driving requirement ie be able to read a car registration plate at 20 metres with glasses or contact lenses, if required.
Working – If your workplace is dust free with no physical activity then you can return to work one week after surgery. If this is not the case then you should wait two weeks before returning to work. Please let us know if you require a doctor’s ‘fit’ note to give to your employer if you need to be off work longer than one week.
Child care – It’s OK for you to look after children following surgery, UNLESS you were given a sedative before surgery, in which case you should not look after children alone for at least 24 hours.
Glaucoma – If you have glaucoma continue to take your glaucoma drops as normal, unless you have been told otherwise. Please use a new, unopened bottle following surgery and leave an interval of at least 5 minutes between the two different types of eye drops – it doesn’t matter which order you put these in.
Lubricating or dry eye drops – If you experience overly dry or gritty eyes it’s OK to use lubricating eye drops, which you can get from your optician or local chemist. Leave at least 5 minutes between using the two different types of drops.
If you already use ‘artificial’ tears medication please use a new, unopened bottle following surgery.
Make-up – You should NOT wear any eye make-up for 3 weeks.
Showers and baths – It’s OK to have showers and/or baths, but keep your eyes closed or shower from the neck down to avoid splashing water in the eye.
Hair washing – Back wash your hair for the first week. This is to avoid getting soap or shampoo into the eye. If you can use a mild or baby shampoo, avoid getting soap in your eye and don’t rub the eye.
Cooking – If you’re feeling OK it’s fine for you to do everyday activities, like cooking, pretty much straightaway when you get home.
Reading/watching TV – It’s OK for you to read and watch television following surgery – your vision may be a little blurred for the first few days.
Sport and exercise – You should aim to keep any sport activities or exercise to a minimum for the two weeks following surgery – it’s OK to resume these after this time.
Swimming – Please do NOT swim until after you have attended your post-operative appointment and your eye has been checked. We recommend you wear goggles if swimming within one month of surgery.
Gardening – You should NOT garden until after your post-operative appointment.
Flying – It is OK to fly one week following surgery, but we would recommend you wait if you can until after your post-operative appointment.
Alcohol – It’s OK to drink alcohol following surgery, UNLESS you had a sedative for surgery, in which case you should wait 24 hours before having a drink.
Bending – It’s OK to bend down for a short while eg while tying shoes, but prolonged periods of bending should be avoided.
Your post-operative appointment and check up
This will be scheduled two weeks after your first eye surgery, if you are having surgery on both eyes.
Your post-op assessment will be scheduled for four weeks after surgery if you are having surgery on one eye only or after your second eye surgery.
The purpose of your post-op appointment is to check your eye health and test your vision following surgery. Several eye tests will be conducted, with your appointment lasting about 1.5 to 2 hours (which includes about 40 minutes to allow your pupils to dilate – see below).
Dilating the eyes causes blurred vision and sensitivity to light, so you won’t be able to drive; so it’s important to make sure you organise a lift or arrange transport to/from the hospital. If you’re struggling to find transport please speak to your eye advisor who will be able to arrange this for you.
So what will happen at this appointment?
Welcome – You will be welcomed and signed in by one of our friendly reception team members and directed to the assessment clinic. You will be seated in our clinic reception and offered complimentary tea and coffee.
Vision test – We will check your vision, which should have improved following surgery. This is done using the same letter chart as the opticians.
Eye pressure – It is important to test the pressure in each eye to test for glaucoma.
Pupils dilated – Drops are placed in each eye to dilate the pupils (this makes your pupils larger, so we can examine the eye). It usually takes about 30 to 40 minutes for your pupils to dilate and then we can examine your eyes. Dilating your pupils affects your vision and sensitivity to light for up to four hours, so you will not be able to drive yourself home after the appointment. And, of course, you will be offered complimentary tea and coffee and biscuits while we wait for your pupils to dilate.
Health check – All your test results are checked to make sure the health of the eye is good and everything is OK following surgery. Ms Pearsall will let you know the results of your surgery and confirm next steps.
Second eye surgery – If you’re having surgery on your second eye you will book a date for your surgery at this appointment. Your eye advisor will give you available dates and you can choose a time and date to suit you – this is usually about two weeks following your post-op appointment.
Final surgery – If this is your final post-op appointment (for surgery on one or two eyes), and all is OK, you will be ‘officially’ discharged. A few patients may require a follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks and this will be booked in for you.
Time to enjoy a clearer, brighter future
You’re all done and should be experiencing improved vision and colours you’re seeing should be back to normal.
Many patients describe their cataract surgery experience as a positive and ‘life-changing’ experience; their vision is greatly improved, it’s helped with their confidence and independence and they are enjoying the vibrant colours that they can now see clearly.
How will my vision be after the operation?
You are likely to notice an improvement in vision within the first few days of the operation. However, the time this takes can vary widely from person to person and greatly depends on whether you have any other eye disease or problems.
Your eye may be more sensitive to changes in light for a few days or weeks after surgery. This is normal and you can wear ordinary sunglasses, which should help.
Your best vision may not be achieved until 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. You will then need to see your local optician, to be assessed for new glasses.
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 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.
What if I have Vision imbalance after the operation? (anisometropia)
If you are normally strongly short-sighted or long-sighted, by choosing the right intra-ocular lens we can dramatically reduce the strength of prescription glasses you will need after your operation. However, as we usually do the operation on one eye at a time, this means your eyes will be out of balance with each other until after the operation on your second eye. This vision imbalance is called anisometropia.
Coping with symptoms of vision imbalance
It may be a couple of weeks before you have the operation on your second eye, depending on how much difficulty with vision imbalance you experience during this time. If you usually wear contact lenses, the symptoms can be avoided by continuing to use one in your non-operated eye.
Symptoms can include:
Difficulty with 3D vision and judging distances
Difficulty pouring liquids
Difficulty picking up objects
Double vision or different sized images from each eye
problems with balance
Suggestions for coping with anisometropia
Most people cope well and continue as normal. The following suggestions may be helpful:
Plan to have a quiet few days following your operation, to give yourself time to get used to your vision.
Take care and time with daily activities and be aware that things may look different compared to before your operation.
Use whatever glasses you feel most comfortable with, or none at all. You may want to ask your optician to remove the lens temporarily on the side that has had the surgery, but this may make the symptoms more noticeable.
It is not usually worth updating glasses until after the second operation. Cheap reading glasses from supermarkets, bookshops or chemists may be helpful and are worth trying - though they won’t match both eyes.
It may be more comfortable to only use one eye during this time, by allowing your vision to be blurred or blocked out on one side.
Driving is usually not advisable during this time, but this depends on the vision in your other eye. We can advise you about driving on the day of your operation and at your post-operative check-up.
At your pre-operative assessment we will discuss with you any specific work or activities you should avoid.
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, which occurs in approximately one in 10 cataract surgery patients. This is called posterior capsular opacification and causes blurring of vision.
This 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. Click here to read more