How Soon After Cataract Surgery is it Safe to Drive?
Cataract removal is a very common procedure. About 28 million of these surgeries happen each year. Almost four million cataract surgeries occur in the U.S. alone.5, 6
Laser cataract surgery is an outpatient procedure performed by an ophthalmologist. It takes about an hour or less. While the procedure is considered safe and low-risk, driving right after is unsafe.1,3
While most people are able to drive within a day or two after surgery, this time frame varies.
You should ask a friend or family member to accompany you to the eye doctor during cataract surgery, or plan to have someone pick you up afterward.
Why Should You Wait to Drive After Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery removes cloudy and dysfunctional eye lenses and replaces them with artificial clear lenses, called intraocular lenses (IOL). The goal is to improve your vision, but you may experience discomfort and vision issues immediately after the procedure.
It is very common to have blurry vision for days or weeks after surgery. You should not wear contact lenses right after surgery.
Here are some more common symptoms following surgery:3
- Light sensitivity
- Difference in depth perception
- Seeing glares or halos around lights
- Feeling like something is stuck in your eye
- Scratchy eyes
- Swelling around the eyes
- Drooping eyelids
- Mild pain
Because of these symptoms, driving after cataract surgery can be dangerous. Most people can resume driving within a day after surgery, but some people may need to wait a little longer.
While most people heal within a few days of cataract surgery, the recovery time can differ for everyone. For some people, it can take up to a week or two to feel normal and achieve visual clarity.
Cataract surgery has a 99% success rate.4
When to Call Your Eye Doctor
If you experience any of the following extreme symptoms after cataract surgery, contact your doctor immediately:
- Extreme eye pain
- Decreased vision
- Loss of vision
- Severe red eyes
- Eye discharge
- Bleeding eyes
Cataract Surgery Recovery and Aftercare
Cataract surgery is a safe and easy surgery. It doesn't take more than an hour, and you can head home right after.
Still, there are some steps you should take once you get home to ensure a speedy recovery:
- Don’t rub your eyes.
- Avoid squeezing your eyelids shut.
- Wear a protective eye shield after surgery to prevent self-injury while you're asleep.
- Your doctor may prescribe eye drops or antibiotics to alleviate post-surgery symptoms and prevent infections.
You may also pay a visit to your doctor about 24 to 48 hours after your surgery and as needed after that to monitor your recovery. A month after, you will need an appointment to get your new prescription if you wear glasses or contacts.2
Cataract surgery is common and quick, but driving after cataract surgery is not safe. You may be able to drive the next day, but the recovery time is different for everyone.
Make sure you have someone to drive you home after surgery and follow your doctor’s safety precautions closely. Also, take any prescribed medications as directed.
If you notice any extreme symptoms, contact your doctor.
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