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Cataract Surgery (what to do after)

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Follow up care is crucial in making your surgery a complete success.

In case of emergency and your doctor is not available, call 212-979-4000 and ask for the nurse or eye resident on call.

Protect Your Operated Eye During Activity

Your operated eye is very sensitive right now. The incision is being held together by only a few (if any) fine stitches. Here's how to protect it:

  • DO NOT REMOVE EYE PATCH until you go to the doctor the day after surgery.
  • USE A METAL OR PLASTIC EYE SHIELD OR WEAR YOUR GLASSES. A shield or glasses help protect your eye from being injured. The doctor will tell you how long to keep using the metal or plastic shield, but a month is about average.
  • AVOID HEAVY LIFTING. For at least a month, or until your doctor tells you, do not carry heavy bags (such as groceries or laundry) or lift heavy items (such as boxes).
  • TO PICK UP THINGS, BEND AT THE KNEES. Do not bend over, because that can cause pressure on the incision.
  • READING, WATCHING TELEVISION AND WALKING ARE OK. It is safe to do all normal activities indoors. You can feel free to sew, do office work and move about carefully.
  • DO NOT DRIVE UNTIL YOUR DOCTOR PERMITS. If you have good vision in your unoperated eye, you will be back behind the wheel soon.

SAFELY USE EYEDROPS AND EYEGLASSES

Your eye drops are important to help you heal faster. Please use the drops as directed, and always follow these simple steps to put them in safely:

  • WASH YOUR HANDS. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water, then dry them completely, before using any eyedrops.
  • PLACE BOTTLE BETWEEN THUMB AND FOREFINGER OF ONE HAND, AND USE THE MIDDLE FINGER OF THE OTHER HAND TO PULL DOWN THE LOWER EYE LID. Put the bottle in your "good" hand, regardless of what side the "operated eye" is on. You'll be more accurate that way.
  • SQUEEZE ONE DROP INTO THE LITTLE CREVICE BETWEEN THE LOWER EYELID AND THE EYE. Never touch your eyelid with the tip of the bottle.
  • PROTECT YOUR EYES FROM BRIGHT LIGHT AND GLARE. Wear sunglasses or wear wraparound, plastic dark glasses over your regular glasses in bright sunlight.
  • HOLD GLASSES BY THE ENDS WHEN PUTTING THEM ON. Put your fingers on the ends of the temple pieces to keep them from scratching or poking you in the eye.

Clean Your Eye and Maintain Good Personal Hygiene

Cleanliness is as important as your medication in the healing process. Whenever you are in the bathroom or at the sink, remember:

  • WASH YOUR HANDS FIRST.
  • CLEANSE EYELIDS AT LEAST TWICE A DAY, especially when you wake up in the morning. That's when mucus has collected and might make it difficult to open your eye.
  • WIPE GENTLY WITH A STERILE COTTON BALL. Dampen it with lukewarm water and gently wipe the lid at the lash line to remove crusted matter.
  • DO NOT PRESS ON YOUR EYE.
  • TAKE A TUB BATH RATHER THAN SHOWER FOR THE FIRST FEW DAYS AFTER SURGERY. Do not get bathwater in your eye!
  • IF YOU MUST SHAMPOO, bend your head back and let the water run away from your face.

Cataract Surgery is "Same Day" Surgery -- Make Plans for the Trip Home

Cataract surgery has changed a lot in the last several years. You may remember family or friends staying in the hospital for days! Now, however, thanks to modern microsurgical techniques, most people having cataract surgery go home the same day. Plan to:

  • HAVE AN ESCORT TAKE YOU HOME. You may still feel a little groggy from anesthesia, so you will need someone to drive you home or take you home in a cab, car service or bus.
  • GET YOUR PRESCRIPTION FILLED. The Ambulatory Surgery Center at the Infirmary has its own Pharmacy on the same floor you are admitted and discharged. You or your escort can get your take-home prescription filled while you wait.
Call Your Doctor or the Hospital Emergency Room if These Symptoms Occur

After cataract surgery, it is normal for your eye to feel itchy or scratchy, like something is in it. Your eye will be red for a few days. However, you should immediately seek help if:

  • YOU EXPERIENCE SEVERE PAIN OR NAUSEA
  • EYE BECOMES VERY RED
  • VISION GETS WORSE, especially if a "black curtain" blocks your vision.
  • EYE STARTS TO TEAR HEAVILY
  • YOU SEE FLASHING LIGHTS

If your own doctor is unavailable, call The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary at 212-979-4000 day or night, and ask to speak to the emergency room nurse or the eye resident on call.

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