A close-up image of a woman with a cataract in her eye

What Activities Should You Avoid After Cataract Surgery?

Vision care is an essential part of everyday life, and with the advancement in eye care technology, it is more accessible than ever. Your eye doctor is in your corner to deal with vision issues such as cataracts through surgery.

But what are cataracts? And what activities should you avoid after surgery? Let’s take a closer look.

What Are Cataracts?

Cataracts occur when your eye’s normally clear lens becomes cloudy. This clouding of the lens can keep light and images from reaching your retina. A cataract can be why sharp images become blurred, appear discolored, dull or distorted, or glare at night. 

A cataract occurs as you age—they start forming when proteins in the form of microscopic clumps cause haziness preventing the lens from sending clear images to the retina. Cataracts develop slowly and eventually interfere with your vision.

Some signs and symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Clouded, blurred, or dim vision
  • Increasing difficulty with vision at night
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Frequent changes in eyeglasses or contact lens prescriptions
  • Fading or yellowing of colors

Cataracts do not occur overnight and are a gradual process. The symptoms can also be gradual and may not be noticeable until cataracts become more advanced.

The development of cataracts can depend on some risk factors. While everyone may not get cataracts, they are age-related and become more common with age.

Some risk factors associated with cataract development include:

  • Family history
  • Medical problems such as diabetes
  • Injury or trauma to the eye
  • Long-term unprotected sun exposure to sunlight
  • Previous eye surgeries

Cataracts can develop from eye injuries, certain diseases, or medications. It’s essential to monitor the symptoms and risk factors associated with cataracts.   

Cataract Surgery & Prevention Methods

Your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam to check for cataracts and evaluate your vision to diagnose cataracts. This process will also include an eye chart test to assess your vision at different distances and tonometry to measure your eye pressure.

Surgery will be your only option to remove a cataract once you are no longer able to go about daily activities. These daily activities can be things like reading or driving. 

Your specialist will remove the cloudy natural lens from the eye during your cataract surgery. Your cataract surgeon will then replace the natural lens with a permanent intraocular lens implant to restore focusing power.

Beyond surgery, you can practice some prevention methods to reduce your risk of developing cataracts.

Some of these cataract prevention methods include: 

  • Protect your eyes from UVB rays
  • Have regular eye exams
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Cataract prevention is about monitoring your risk factors and being extra cautious with things that can damage your vision.

An older woman relaxing and taking it easy, sitting outside with her dog

Activities to Avoid Following Cataract Surgery

Following your cataract surgery, there are some precautions you should take to make sure the healing process progresses without any issues. Your eye doctor will lay out specific aftercare instructions for you, but there are some general guidelines to follow post-surgery. 

Avoid Driving Immediately After Surgery

You will not be able to drive immediately after surgery and should arrange to have someone drive you home ahead of time. While you may be able to drive several days after your surgery, you should first consult your eye doctor to get a specific timeline for yourself.

Exercising

Immediately after your surgery, you should avoid intense workouts and exercise. 

In the week following your surgery, you should opt for low-impact physical activities, such as:

  • Walking outdoors
  • Gentle walking on a treadmill
  • Light household chores
  • Gentle stretching

Even with these low-impact activities, you should avoid bending and lifting anything too heavy that can increase pressure in your eyes and interfere with the healing process. 

Missing Work

Most people feel good enough to get back to work within a few days of surgery if they do not develop any post-surgery complications.

It does depend on what kind of work you do—avoiding certain activities such as lifting heavy objects or bending over is crucial to the recovery process.

Your cataract specialist will map out your recovery process, and it is essential to follow your doctor’s guidelines and report any irregularities. 

Some other general recommendations to protect your eyes following surgery include avoiding:

  • Getting water and soap in your eyes
  • Swimming
  • Dusting and gardening
  • Touching your eyes
  • Using face cream or lotion
  • Using hot tubs and saunas

Avoiding these activities can help accelerate the healing process and get you back to your daily routine.

Being Cautious

Your eye doctor will take every precaution to ensure that your healing process progresses without any complications. Avoiding some activities can help keep the post-surgery healing on track and save you some stress. 

Contact your eye doctor today to learn more about cataracts and the recovery process.