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Recovering From Cataract Surgery: Do's And Don'ts

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Cataract surgery is a major event. Since cataracts cloud your vision and make it impossible to see, the use of lasers or scalpels to remove them is not as frightening as the potential for infection and problems afterwards. Here are some very helpful do's and don't's to help make your post-cataract recuperation go more smoothly.

DO Use the Prescription Eye Drops Your Optometrist Gives You

These drops help prevent infection of the incision sites on your eye (only one eye is operated on at a time). Your optometrist wants to make sure your cataract-free eye does not have any problems and functions correctly before he or she schedules the surgery for your other eye, if it is also affected by a cataract. Using the drops also helps the repaired eye stay moist and heal faster, alleviate itching, dryness and redness, and alleviates any post-operative pain.

DON'T Remove the Eye Shield 

After surgery, your doctor will place a protective shield over the eye. This shield protects the eye as it heals and prevents you from rubbing it or accidentally tearing and scratching it. You may remove it to put your eye drops in, and your doctor may recommend removing it for a few minutes to a few hours each day to allow the eye to adjust to its restored sight. Otherwise, you have to sleep with it on and get around as you normally would with the shield covering the eye for a few days to a week.

DO See Your Optometrist If Anything Strange Occurs

Seeing your optometrist for follow-up care is normal, but if something really out-of-the-ordinary occurs, e.g., your eye is sealed shut and/or is crusty and hard to open, see your optometrist sooner. He or she can help you open the eye carefully, check for problems, and diagnose what caused these issues.

DON'T Expose Your Eye to Bright Light Right Away

Remember, this eye has been unable to focus light onto the retina for some time. As such, the retina is no longer used to bright light/outdoor light. The shield or eye patch you were given will help it get a little bit of bright light each day and help the retina recognize that this is the new normal. You could say it is light therapy for an eye that was blind but now can see.

DON'T Go Swimming or Submerge Your Eye in the Shower

This includes the shower stream in your bathroom. You will need to cover the shielded eye with a towel while bathing to keep the pressure of the water or any shampoo or soap from entering the eye. It will not be able to protect itself fully right after surgery, and chlorine, shampoo, conditioner and/or soap can cause some serious damage or pain, which you cannot address with more water to flood the eye.