12 things you can safely do and not do after cataract surgery

I have talked about what you need to do after successful cataract surgery on my website jaheedkhan.co.uk, but I wanted to provide you with a definitive list of what you can safely do after cataract surgery, the things to avoid and more importantly the reasons why:

1. Do not drive on the first day after you cataract surgery

You don’t want to drive immediately after cataract surgery because your vision may be a little blurred and you may feel a bit of imbalance between the eyes.

2. Do not lift heavy objects or engage in strenuous activity for a few weeks

You don’t want to do heavy lifting or strenuous exercise because these sorts of activities can lead to transmitted pressure from your chest or abdomen to your eyeball. An increase in eye pressure could lead to your small self-sealing wound in your cornea opening  risking infection. Your eye is one of the fastest healing parts of your body, so the reopening wounds, surgical or otherwise is rare. With that said, avoid heavy weight lifting at the gym and prolonged treadmill running for at least 2 weeks.

3. Don’t bend over immediately after your cataract surgery.

You don’t want to bend over immediately after a cataract surgery for the same reason as above. However, I do say that patients can safely bend over after the first day as the pressure transmitted to the eye is minimal.

4. Avoid heavy sneezing or vomiting should be avoided.

I appreciate that this is easier said than done, as these sorts of things tend to be beyond our control. I may discuss a delay to your cataract surgery if you are already sneezing due to allergy or a cold, or are unwell, to avoid the risk of a post-operative eye infection.

5. Avoid strenuous sexual activities for a few days.

I mention this because one of my private cataract surgery patients asked this exact question and wanted to use Viagra. Strenuous sex can lead to increased pressure in your abdomen and chest and lead to increased eye pressure. I advise abstinence for a few days to be safe.

6. Avoid swimming and using hot tubs for 2 weeks.

You’ll want to avoid indoor water sports in general, because swimming pools can harbour bacteria and you risk infection to the eye. Plus, there may be a tendency for you to rub your eyes inadvertently if water gets in them. I advise that if you must swim, that wearing goggles after the 2 weeks.

7. Avoid rubbing your eyes after cataract surgery.

I advise against rubbing your eyes after cataract surgery to stop you from inadvertently opening the small self-sealing wound we make to gain access to your eye during cataract surgery. I advise wearing a clear shield at night for a week after cataract surgery to ensure you don’t rub your eyes in your sleep and cause problems.

8. Avoid shampoo getting into your eye after cataract surgery.

You can shower, bathe and wash your face as normal but try to avoid irritants such as soap or shampoo getting into your eye whilst doing so. This will reduce the chance of getting an infection and causing the small wound to open.

9. Carry on using your eye to read and watch television as normal.

There is no harm to eye if you use it as normal. It will not slow the recovery after your cataract operation and it will not damage the eye.

10. Avoid wearing make-up for 1 week.

I advise against wearing make up for a week to reduce your chance of bacteria getting into the eye from make up brushes and products.

11. Take at least a day off work after cataract surgery.

“When can I get back to work?” is a common question patients ask me after cataract surgery. I generally say take off the first day after the cataract operation and return to work on the second day. If your job involves straining then it would be safer to leave work for 1 week.

12. Don’t put any cotton wool balls on your eye or under your eye shield you wear at night.

I advise against this, because these materials can release fine fibres that irritate the eye and increase the chance of rubbing and infection.

I hope this answers most of the questions relating to the recovery period after cataract surgery, but if you have any others, no matter how silly they sound, please contact me and ask.