After cataract surgery

Cataract surgery

Your vision might be blurry for the first week after surgery. Please follow our instructions to look after your eye or eyes:

It is normal to experience some redness, watering, or grittiness of the eye, but you should never have severe pain. Your symptoms should gradually improve as time passes.

Your vision may take a few weeks to get better. If you have any other conditions (such as diabetes, glaucoma or macular degeneration) your vision might still be limited after surgery.

If you usually wear contact lenses, you can wear a lens in the eye that has not been operated on.

If you use eye drops for glaucoma, you can continue using these unless the doctor has asked you to stop. 

The evening after your surgery

The evening and night after your surgery, please follow our instructions.

We recommend avoiding boiling kettles, stoves and other hazards until you can see clearly. You should also get advice from your doctor before driving.


  • rest quietly
  • leave your dressing on until we see you in the morning at the clinic
  • follow our instructions if you had general anaesthetic
  • take simple painkillers (paracetamol or ibuprofen) if you have any pain or discomfort
  • contact us if you have severe pain or are worried about anything


  • do not rub your eye
  • do not bend forward or lift up
  • do not touch or remove your eye shield or dressing
  • do not drive

Symptoms after surgery

During the night after your operation, you might have some mild discomfort. Please take simple painkillers (such as paracetamol or ibuprofen) if you need them.

If any symptoms get worse, please contact your medical team or go to the eye casualty department (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm).

If you have severe pain or your vision is worsening very quickly, it is an emergency. Outside of these hours, go to the main emergency department (A&E) at St Thomas’ Hospital.

Go to eye casualty or A&E if you have:

  • severe pain after surgery
  • swelling of the eyelids
  • increasing redness, pain and blurring of vision in the days or weeks after surgery
  • distorted vision, wavy lines, flashing light or floaters that were not there before
  • worsening vision, especially if you find that your vision improves after surgery, but then starts to get worse again

These symptoms could be a sign of infection. This is very rare but it has to be treated as an emergency. You must come to eye casualty or call if you have any concerns.

The day after your surgery

For routine cataract surgery, we do not need to see you the next day. You should have a post-operative check in a few weeks. You can remove your plastic eye shield.

Sometimes we ask you to come to a clinic the morning after your surgery. This is so we can do a post-operative check. We might remove the plastic eye shield at this appointment.

The weeks after surgery

In the weeks after surgery, or until you've had your follow up appointment, make sure you:

Using your eye drops

The eye drops you have been given should help with any irritation. You will usually need to use these eye drops for up to 4 weeks after surgery.

  1. Wash your hands in the morning after you wake up, and feel alert.
  2. Boil water (or ask someone to do this if you can't see clearly) and pour some into a clean container.
  3. Leave the water to cool down.
  4. Use cotton wool or a cotton bud to gently bathe around your eye. Wipe from the inside of your eye outwards once, and then use fresh cotton wool. 
  5. Wash your hands again.
  6. Use your eye drops as prescribed.

Please take your prescription to your GP if you need more eye drops. Allow enough time for the repeat prescription to be ready. It's important that you finish your treatment as prescribed.

We cannot supply you with any further drops.

Driving after surgery

Do not drive until you've had your post-operative follow-up appointment.

If this will be difficult for you please discuss it with the medical team.

Glasses after surgery

In most cases, the aim of surgery is for you to see as well as possible without glasses for distance. However, you will need new reading glasses after surgery.

You should wait until after your follow up appointment to visit your local optician.

If you are having cataract surgery on the other eye, you might want to wait until you have had surgery on both eyes before getting new glasses.

Sometimes, you might end up being more long sighted or short sighted than planned. If this happens, you might need a stronger glasses prescription or another procedure.

Follow up appointment

You will have a follow up appointment after surgery. This is usually within 6 weeks after surgery.

If there were no problems during your operation, you will be asked to make an optician near you.

If this is not suitable for you then we will send you information about a follow up appointment at hospital.  

Please ask us if you have any questions about this before leaving the hospital after your surgery.

Resource number: 3096/VER5
Last reviewed: November 2022
Next review: November 2025

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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