After Small-Incision Cataract Surgery: The First 24 Hours

After surgery, you’ll rest in a recovery area for about an hour. Even though you may feel fine, you should take it easy. Your doctor will let you know what you should and shouldn’t do once you get home. You may need to wear eye protection the first day. Also remember to take any eye drops or other medicine your doctor prescribes.

Woman and man sitting on couch looking at book.

Back at home

Spend your first day relaxing at home. Watch TV, read, or talk to a friend. Be careful to:

  • Not rub your eye

  • Not lift anything that makes you strain

  • Not drink alcohol within the first 24 hours

What to expect

It’s normal for your eye to be bruised or bloodshot at first. You may also feel itching or mild discomfort. You may have some short-term (temporary) fluid discharge. These won’t last long.

Getting back in action

You may be able to get back to much of your routine on the first day. But with some tasks, your doctor may ask you to wait. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations.

Here are some general guidelines:

  • You can shower again in 2 to 3 days.

  • You can cook again in 2 to 3 days.

  • You can drive again in 5 to 7 days.

  • You can exercise again in 14 days.

When to call your doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • Your pain is not relieved by over-the-counter medicine.

  • You have nausea or vomiting.

  • Your vision suddenly becomes worse.



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