After undergoing cataract surgery, some people may need to wear a protective shield. They may also need to avoid certain activities, such as touching their eye and bending over.

Cataracts are a condition in which the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy, causing distorted vision. They can cause vision loss, impaired night vision, and glare.

Cataract surgery is the most common eye procedure. It involves removing the clouded lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial lens. It is an effective way to restore vision for many people with cataracts.

This article looks at what to expect from cataract surgery, recovery, aftercare, and things to avoid.

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for eye health, visit our dedicated hub.

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Cataract surgery is generally very successful, and around 90% of people have improved vision after the surgery.

Most people can expect to have blurry vision for a short period while their eye heals. This is typical and nothing to worry about.

It is also typical to experience:

These often resolve after a few days, but it can take up to 8 weeks for a full recovery.

Learn more

Learn more about cataract surgery.

The recovery time following cataract surgery is usually short, but some factors may result in it taking longer. These include the type of surgery, anesthesia, and complications.

Most people are completely healed 8 weeks after their cataract surgery, provided there are no complications.

As there are different types of cataract surgery, recovery times will vary depending on which procedure a person has.

Small-incision cataract surgery, also called phacoemulsification, is the most common type of cataract surgery. It may have a shorter recovery time because it is less invasive.

Another type of cataract surgery is extracapsular surgery. This requires a surgeon to make a larger incision, so it may take longer to recover from this procedure.

There are several things people can do at home to ensure the best possible outcome from their cataract surgery.

A person may need to wear a special eye shield or glasses while they recover, avoid certain activities, and take medication.


A doctor may prescribe medications such as medicated eye drops after cataract surgery. They may also prescribe antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection.

It is essential that a person takes any medicines the doctor prescribes. They should take the medication exactly as the doctor instructed.

If an individual experiences pain, they can take pain relief medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as long as they have not been told otherwise by their doctor.

People should discuss any regular medications with a healthcare professional, who will advise on when to resume taking them.

A person may have to stop taking certain medications, such as aspirin or other blood thinners.


A person may need to avoid some activities for a few weeks, such as touching the eye area, bending over, or lifting heavy objects.

People can usually resume their regular activities after a few weeks, but healthcare professionals will give them instructions about certain activities.

Although a person can shower the day after the surgery, it is important to make sure water avoids the eye area.

A friend or family member should be present to drive a person home safely after the surgery.

A doctor will advise the person about when they can resume driving.

Cleaning the eye

During the first 2 weeks, a person may need to clean their eye twice daily.

However, people should only clean their eyes following a doctor’s or surgeon’s recommendation. They should follow the healthcare professional’s instructions.

Generally, to clean their eye, a person should:

  1. Use sterile equipment and sanitize surfaces.
  2. Boil some water and wait for it to cool.
  3. Wash their hands thoroughly.
  4. Dip a clean cotton bud or gauze into the cooled water.
  5. Wipe the eye gently from the inside corner (near the nose) to the outer corner.
  6. Avoid wiping inside the eye.
  7. Avoid washing the eye with water, as the water may not be sterile.
  8. Avoid pressing the eye.

Using eye drops

Healthcare professionals will give people instructions on how to use eye drops, but there are some important things to remember.

  • Never touch the dropper tip to eyelashes, eyes, or surfaces.
  • To apply eye drops, tilt the head back and pull down the lower eyelid with a single finger.
  • Apply the drops to the inside of the lower eyelid.
  • Close the eye.
  • Keep the eye closed for 30 seconds to 1 minute to allow the drops to move around the eye.

There are several things people should avoid after eye surgery.

  • Avoid bending over for the first 48 hours after the surgery, as this can cause pressure to build up in the eyes and interfere with healing.
  • Try to sneeze and cough as gently as possible for the same reason.
  • People may experience an itchy eye after surgery, but they should refrain from touching their eyes to avoid infection.
  • Avoid driving until the healthcare professional advises.
  • Avoid strenuous activities such as heavy gardening and lifting for 2 weeks, and sports and swimming for 1 month after surgery.
  • Avoid wearing eye makeup, such as mascara and eyeliner.

People should contact a healthcare professional as soon as possible if they experience any of the following after surgery:

  • extreme redness in the eyes
  • flashes of light
  • floaters or small dark spots across their vision
  • loss of vision
  • severe pain that is not relieved with pain relief medication

It is important that people attend their follow-up appointments and report any symptoms following surgery. This will help make sure healthcare professionals catch any complications as early as possible.

Read on for the answers to some typical questions about cataract surgery recovery.

What happens if you accidentally bend over after cataract surgery?

People should avoid bending over for up to 48 hours after their cataract surgery, but sometimes this is unavoidable. For example, tying up shoes or putting on pants.

It is important to avoid bending over as much as possible, but accidentally bending over once or twice after cataract surgery will likely not cause any issues.

Prolonged bending over is where problems can occur.

How long do you wear an eye shield at night after cataract surgery?

People should typically wear an eye shield for at least 5 nights, but healthcare professionals can advise each individual on how long they should wear theirs.

When can I watch TV after cataract surgery?

Most people can watch television a few hours after the surgery and resume their usual activities after a few days.

However, a person’s vision may appear blurry for the first few hours.

As a person recovers from cataract surgery, they should take time to focus on their eyesight and vision improvement. They should also follow any instructions given by the doctor and use eye drops as instructed.

The most important thing to remember about cataract surgery recovery is that it takes time. It’s easy to be impatient when someone is waiting for their vision to improve, but it is important not to rush things.

After eye surgery, a healthcare professional will advise a person to take care of their body by eating well, getting plenty of rest, and avoiding activities that could stress or strain their eyesight.