The thought of any surgical procedure, including cataract surgery, can be daunting. Fortunately, surgery is considered a safe and effective treatment for one of the most common eye conditions in the world – cataracts. In fact, cataract surgery is considered one of the most often performed operations in the developed world. If you’re about to go in for a cataract operation, understanding what to expect after cataract surgery may help to allay some of your concerns. 


How Does Cataract Surgery Work?

Cataract surgery is usually a straightforward procedure taking no longer than 15 minutes per eye. However, some cases may be more complex than others, such as operating on an eye after physical trauma, which may increase the risk of complications and what to expect after cataract surgery in terms of the prognosis. 

Removing a cataract is performed under local anaesthetic. The ophthalmologist will create an incision in the cornea, the front surface of the eye, and access the cataract through the pupil, which will have been dilated with eye drops in preparation for the procedure. The cataract is broken into smaller pieces which can then be removed from the eye, and an artificial lens implant will be inserted in its place. Typically, this lens implant is calculated to correct your eye’s prescription. 



After the cataract surgery procedure, the ophthalmologist will provide a list of post-operative instructions that will help to optimise healing and recovery. You may also be given a more tailored idea of what to expect after your cataract surgery, depending on how the operation went and if your surgeon foresees any specific complications. 

The presence of other eye conditions can affect the recovery process after a cataract operation, or may influence what you might be able to expect of your final vision after the surgery. Prior to your cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist will have discussed these factors with you. 


What to Expect After Cataract Surgery?

In general, an uncomplicated cataract surgery procedure will follow an expected post-operative course. 

Immediately after the operation, your vision won’t be perfect. You may find there’s still some blur or haziness. Depending on how dense and visually debilitating your cataract was to begin with, you may still find your vision is a little or a lot better than prior to the surgery. Even if you feel like your vision is improved, it’s still a good idea to hold off from driving until at least your next review with the ophthalmologist to ensure your vision is up to standard for getting behind the wheel. In most cases, vision can take 4 to 6 weeks to settle completely after the cataract has been removed.

surgery cataract recovery period melbourneSometimes it can take longer. Once your ophthalmologist is satisfied that your eye has healed and your vision has stabilised, he or she will often recommend you visit your optometrist to check your prescription. Although many instances of cataract surgery mean that you no longer need to rely on glasses for long distance activities such as driving or watching TV, most people will still need to update their reading glasses. There may also still be some residual prescription for long distance after the operation, so you may prefer glasses for specific activities such as driving long distances at night or watching sport. 

For the next week or so, your eye may also feel gritty, red, and slightly sore. This is also normal. You will have been given a set of prescription eye drops to use to help control the post-operative inflammation and minimise your risk of an infection. It’s important to keep using these eye drops as directed. If you stop your drops too early, this can cause a flare up of inflammation or make your eye vulnerable to infection while it’s still healing. At no point should your eye increase in redness or pain, and there should not be any discharge from the eye. If you experience any of this during your cataract surgery recovery period, it’s imperative you contact your ophthalmologist immediately. 

Some patients may experience an increase in discomfort around bright lights, also known as glare sensitivity. This is also normal for a few weeks to months following your operation. Because the cataract had been blocking the amount of light entering the eye, your eye will need some time to adjust to the sudden increase in light following the removal of the cataract. In some cases, glare sensitivity can last long-term, particularly if your artificial lens implant is a multifocal lens. 

It is common for some people to experience dry eye after their operation. Often this will resolve over a number of weeks and in the meantime, can be managed with tear lubricants. Some people may be more likely to experience dry eye as a side effect of the cataract surgery as dry eye is one of the most common eye conditions in the age group where cataracts are frequently found. If you appear to be at risk of severe or prolonged dry eye after cataract surgery, your ophthalmologist should discuss this with you beforehand. 

If any point you’re unsure if what you’re experiencing is normal or expected after your cataract operation, it’s important to contact your eyecare professional for an examination. Remember, if your vision deteriorates, or your eye increases in redness or pain, get seen straight away.  

Call us now on 03 9000 0389 for a consultation.



Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.




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