After Small-Incision Cataract Surgery: The First 24 Hours

Woman leaning head back and pulling gently down on lower eyelid. Other hand is holding eyedrops bottle over eye. 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 healthcare provider 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 healthcare provider prescribes.

Back at home

Spend your first day relaxing at home. Be careful to:

  • Not rub your eye

  • Not lift anything that makes you strain

  • Not drink alcohol within the first 24 hours

  • Do not bend from the waist to pick up objects

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 healthcare provider may ask you to wait. Always follow your healthcare provider's recommendations.

Here are some general guidelines:

  • You will have to use eye drops after surgery. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider's directions for using these drops. 

  • Avoid getting soap or water directly in the eye. Do not rub or press on your eye. 

  • Your ophthalmologist may ask you to wear eyeglasses or a shield to protect your eye. 

  • You may need to wear a protective eye shield when you sleep.

  • Your ophthalmologist will talk with you about how active you can be soon after surgery. He or she will tell you when you can safely. exercise, drive, or do other activities.  

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider if:

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

  • You have nausea or vomiting.

  • Your vision suddenly becomes worse.