Cataracts are a common eye condition that affects the lens of your eyes. To treat them, many people choose to have cataract surgery, which involves replacing the cloudy lens inside your eye with an artificial one.

After cataract surgery, those who wear contact lenses for vision correction may be unsure as to whether they can continue wearing them. To help provide some clarity, we’ll outline some factors that contact lens wearers should consider after a cataract operation for a smooth recovery.

How long does it take for the eyes to heal after cataract surgery?

Most people go home the same day as their cataract surgery with a plastic pad in place for protection. Sensation in the eye starts to return within a few hours but it can take several days for your vision to return completely.2 Full recovery from cataract surgery can take 4-6 weeks.

Can you wear contacts after a cataract operation?

You can wear contact lenses after having cataract surgery — so long as you give the eye adequate time to heal. Contact lens use is not recommended immediately following your procedure because it could make your eye more prone to infection and complications.

How soon after cataract surgery can you wear contact lenses?

You will need to wait at least one month before you can begin wearing contact lenses after your cataract surgery. This should give you enough time for your eye to heal and your vision to stabilise.1 Your vision may also have altered due to the surgery — so an eye test is recommended to review your prescription within your glasses and contact lenses 6-8 weeks after the surgery itself. However, healing time can vary from person to person, so it’s important to consult your ophthalmologist as to when it’s safe to start using contact lenses in the operated eye again. In the meantime, it’s recommended that you wear a pair of prescription glasses to correct your vision.

What are some side effects of cataract surgery that can impact my recovery time?

On the whole, cataract surgery is a safe and straightforward procedure. As with any surgery, however, it’s important to also be aware of some side effects or complications that could impact your recovery. These include:4

  •  Infection and inflammation
  • Swelling of the cornea
  • Macular oedema (swelling of the central part of the retina)
  • Posterior capsule opacity (PCO) — where the posterior part of the lens becomes cloudy. This can be treated with a quick, painless laser procedure.5
  • Ptosis(droopy eyelid) — which may require surgical correction or could go away naturally
  • Retinal detachment
  • Increased pressure inside the eye
  • Dislocation of the implanted intraocular lens

Complications can delay recovery from cataract surgery. In these cases, its best to avoid wearing contact lenses until your eye is fully healed.

What contact lenses should I wear after cataract surgery?

Once your eyes have healed, your optometrist will evaluate whether you still need to wear contact lenses to correct your vision. If you do, soft contact lenses are a good option as they tend to be more comfortable to wear. Newer materials called silicone hydrogels allow considerably more oxygen to pass through to the cornea, making them breathable and less drying on recovering eyes. 

All contact lens wearers should follow a meticulous cleaning routine, but this is even more important after cataract surgery. If you’re worried about keeping your contact lenses clean, choosing daily disposable contact lenses over monthly lenses is a great way to minimise the risk of developing an eye infection.

Do I need to get a new prescription for my contact lenses after cataract surgery?

You may need a new contact lens prescription after undergoing cataract surgery as your vision is likely to have changed. Using your old contact lens prescription post-op could lead to blurry vision, headaches, and eye strain. As it can take up to six weeks for your vision to stabilise after surgery, it’s best to wait 6-8 weeks before scheduling an eye exam with your optometrist. 

If you’d like some help deciding which contact lens is right for you post-surgery, book an appointment today and one of our experts will take your through your options. To learn more about contact lens care, simply visit our contact lens resource.

References

1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (no date). How soon after cataract surgery can I wear my contacts? [Online]. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health... [Accessed 5 November 2019].
2. NHS. (no date). Recovery: Cataract Surgery. [Online]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/... [Accessed 5 November 2019].
3. Niyadurupola N, Astbury N. Endophthalmitis: controlling infection before and after cataract surgery. Community Eye Health. 2008;21(65):9–10. [Online]. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p... [Accessed 5 November 2019].
4. American Optometric Association. (no date). Cataract Surgery. [Online]. Available at: https://www.aoa.org/patients-a... [Accessed 5 November 2019].
5. Royal National Institute of Blind. (no date). Posterior Capsule Opacification – laser treatment following cataract surgery. [Online]. Available at: https://www.rnib.org.uk/eye-he... [Accessed 5 November 2019].