In the week leading up to cataract surgery, your eye care professional will usually need to perform a series of tests to determine the shape and size of your eye for a proper lens fitting. In addition to this, to appropriately prepare for cataract surgery, there are a few simple measures you should take the day of your cataract surgery to make sure everything runs smoothly:
- Make sure to take at least one day off of work for recovery
- Don't drink alcoholic beverages for at least 24 hours prior to the operation
- Only eat breakfast if your eye care professional has explicitly allowed it
- Be clear about which medications you must avoid on the morning of surgery
- Shower and wash your hair to help maintain a clean surgical environment
- Arrange a ride home, because you will not be able to drive after the surgery
Immediately After Surgery
After your cataract surgery is complete, you will probably rest in the post-operative room for about an hour with a protective covering for your eye. Before you leave, you will most likely:
- Feel a bit groggy from the anesthesia. This usually wears off fairly quickly
- Receive prescription medications, such as antibiotic or anti-inflammatory eye drops, to use for the next few weeks
- Receive instructions on how to care for your eye
- Schedule a follow-up appointment for the next day
You may not be able to drive for at least 24 hours after surgery, and you should have a caregiver bring you home and pick up any prescriptions. You may still feel a stinging or slight grittiness in the eye. This is normal, and you should not rub or put pressure on the eye. Light activities like reading, walking or watching TV are okay, but avoid anything strenuous, such as heavy lifting, for at least a week. You should also wear the protective eye shield overnight and avoid sleeping on the side of the body that was operated on.
The Adjustment Period
Most people notice a significant improvement within 24 hours after cataract surgery—within a month you should be fully recovered. Your brain continues learning how to work with your new artificial lens, and your vision should be optimal at six months. After one year and every year thereafter, you should have a complete eye exam by your eye care professional to ensure there are no new problems such as a secondary cataract.