Follow-up exams after cataract surgery

After the Procedure

What to expect after cataract surgery

The recovery after cataract surgery is relatively short – it can take a few days, but also up to one month. It really depends on the patient. You will immediately notice a significant vision improvement following the surgery. However, you may also experience blurriness and feel discomfort. It can take a few days for the eye to adjust and vision to improve. Bifocal and trifocal lenses normally require a longer period of adjustment of several weeks or months before vision fully improves.

For an optimal recovery, follow your doctor's detailed instructions about how to protect your eye after the procedure, and go to your follow-up exams.

Patient talking to eye doctor

First Steps After Surgery

Make sure to follow these instructions after your surgery:

  • Get someone to drive you home after surgery.
  • Try to take a long nap after to keep your eyes closed and rested.
  • Resist the urge to rub your eyes if they feel itchy.
  • If you are feeling any discomfort or slight pain, ask your doctor for eye drops or an over-the-counter mild pain reliever.
  • Explain your symptoms to your doctor in the check-up after the surgery.

Doctor prescribing eye drops to patient

Right After Surgery

After the procedure, you might be told to wear an eye patch or similar protection for a few days. Your doctor may also prescribe eye drops or other medications to prevent infection and to control eye pressure. Make sure you use these medication exactly as prescribed. 

Elderly couple relaxing

Relaxation for a Quick Recovery

The doctors may advise you to relax and avoid strenuous activities such as bending over, lifting things or exercising, as well as not to overexert your eyes in general for a few weeks. You should avoid rubbing your eye or putting extra pressure on it when sneezing, for instance. The first week after surgery, you should avoid swimming or using a bath/hot tub to reduce the risk of infection. Moreover, don’t expose your eye to irritants such as grime, dust and wind, and refrain from washing your hair.

Working at your computer or watching TV for a short amount of time should be possible within a few hours after your surgery. However, you should avoid reading and other activities that may stress your eyes in the first days after the surgery.

Follow-up eye exam

Follow-Up Exams

Usually, your doctor wants to look at your eye within 24 hours after surgery. Your vision and eye pressure will be checked and instructions will be given on how to use the prescribed eye drops. Your vision might be blurry right after surgery, but it will improve during the first few days after your treatment.

Additional examinations are typically scheduled over the following weeks to monitor the healing process until vision has fully stabilized. Depending on the type of intraocular lens, one to four follow-up appointments within the first month after surgery are customary. The final follow-up appointment will take place about a month after the cataract surgery.  

Regular check-ups by ophthalmologist

Regular Exams

After the follow-up examinations, you only need to go to your ophthalmologist for periodic check-ups, just like before your surgery.

If you need cataract surgery in both eyes, your surgeon will usually wait at least a few days, or even up to two weeks, for your first eye to recover before performing the procedure on the second eye.

If correcting glasses are still needed after the surgery, they should be prescribed only four to six weeks after the surgery.

Inform your doctor if you experience:

  • a strong pain in your eye
  • a re-appearing redness in your eye
  • unusual headache or nausea
  • considerable vision deterioration
  • light flashes, or huge increase of floaters in your eye
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