Cataract Surgery Recovery Time

By Francis Clark M.D. on January 23, 2017

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been told you have cataracts. We know that the thought of eye surgery can be a bit scary—it’s your eyes after all. At Ophthalmology Physicians & Surgeons, we’re here to help you every step of the way—before, during and after your cataract surgery. As ophthalmologists in the greater Philadelphia area, we’ve performed thousands of cataract surgery procedures. It is a very common procedure; in fact, in the United States, it is the most frequently performed elective surgical procedure. Additionally, cataract surgery is a very fast procedure, typically taking less than 30 minutes in the operating room. Complications due to cataract surgery are rare and are generally due to the patient having other health issues.cataract surgery recovery time

Here is what you can expect when recovering from cataract surgery:

Immediately after cataract surgery…

Right after cataract surgery, your cataract surgeon will likely place a protective shield over your eye. We usually recommend that you wear the patch or shield when you sleep for the first week. This will help ensure that you do not accidently rub your eye. When you get home, you’ll probably feel tired and should rest and take it easy.

You’ll need someone to drive you home and to the first post-operative appointment. You won’t be able to drive until your eye doctor gives you permission.

The eye on which you had surgery may feel scratchy or irritated. This is normal.

The first week after surgery…

Some patients see very well the day after cataract surgery. Other patients see well a few days after surgery, and still others may need a full month to reach their maximum vision improvement.

Most daily activities can be resumed following your surgery, in particular:

  • Resume pre-operative medications and begin your eye drop regimen when you get home.
  • You may read, watch TV or shower as long as you’re comfortable and avoid getting water, soap or shampoo in your eye.
  • Do not rub your eye.
  • Use the clear eye shield at bedtime for the first week following surgery.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, lifting anything over 5 pounds and bending at the waist for at least 1 week.

Normal symptoms during the first week following cataract surgery include:

  • Mild itching, scratching, burning, feeling like something is in your eye. You may take Tylenol for discomfort.
  • Light sensitivity is common for the first day or two. Use protective sunglasses to reduce the glare.
  • Black spots or floaters.

A few weeks after cataract surgery…

For most people who have cataracts, both eyes are surgically treated—one after the other. So if you have your “first” eye done, approximately one month later, you will have your “second” eye done. The surgeries are spread out this way to best assure your “first” eye recovers from the procedure and that your vision in that eye is stabilized. Once this is assured, and it routinely is, surgery is performed on your other eye.

A couple months later…

After you have had cataract surgery in both eyes, we’ll examine your eyes for eyeglasses and give you a final prescription. If you’ve gone with a premium IOL, such as a multi-focal or accommodative, you may not need eyeglasses.

Next Steps

During cataract surgery recovery, most patients experience very little pain or discomfort. Are you ready to learn more? We would be happy to schedule a cataract consultation to discuss your vision and eye care needs. Just give us a call at 267-410-1046 or visit

We have 7 eye care offices in the greater Philadelphia area.

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