Planning Your Cataract Surgery? What Should You Expect During Recovery?
If you've recently noticed your vision becoming cloudy or hazy -- almost like a constant layer of smog dampening everything in your field of vision -- you may have cataracts. Fortunately, you're not alone. Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed, with more than three million Americans having this operation each year, and the statistical risk of complications from this procedure is extremely low.
However, you'll still want to prepare yourself before surgery so that you'll be able to bounce back quickly and avoid any setbacks in the recovery process. Read on to learn more about what to expect when recovering from cataract surgery, as well as some steps you can take to minimize the already low odds you'll find yourself dealing with complications from this operation.
What should you expect while you're recovering from cataract surgery?
During your cataract surgery, your original damaged lens will be removed and replaced with a clear plastic lens, generally by making a thin incision in the surface of your eye with a laser or scalpel. Your eye will then be covered with a protective shield for a few days to minimize its exposure to light and potential irritants like dust or hair while it's still healing. Although there are no nerves in the parts of your eye that go under the knife (or laser beam), you may still experience some mild discomfort once the anesthetic drops used to numb your eye begin to wear off.
You may also find that your eye waters more than usual during the first few days following cataract surgery. This lubrication can be important for the healing process, and you'll want to avoid rubbing your eye or touching it directly with a tissue. You'll likely also be prescribed antibiotic eyedrops to apply a few times per day to prevent infection. It's important to use these drops even if your eye is teary enough that it seems the drops just leak right out.
What can you do to decrease your risk of post-operative complications?
In most cases, your recovery from cataract surgery should be completely textbook. However, some complications can arise, ranging from infection to irritation of the insertion site that requires the replacement lens to be removed and replaced again. To prevent having to undergo a second cataract surgery, it's important to follow your doctor's instructions, take all medicine as prescribed, and immediately report any severe symptoms to your doctor for follow-up. For example, a sharp or stabbing pain in your eye during recovery could indicate infection or even a piece of surgical debris left behind -- both problems that should be addressed quickly to prevent further damage. Click here to learn more about laser cataract surgery.