Will My Eyes Look Different After Cataract Surgery?

27 October 2023

By Author: Amir Hamid

At Optegra, we perform tens of thousands of successful cataract operations each year. We understand that people can get anxious before their treatment, even though cataract operations are one of the safest and most routinely performed anywhere in the world.

Do eyes look different after cataract surgery is among the most frequently asked patient questions that we encounter.


Do Eyes Look Different After Cataract Surgery?

Following cataract surgery, the appearance of the eyes typically remains largely unchanged, as the surgical procedure primarily focuses on improving vision by replacing the clouded natural lens with a clear artificial intraocular lens (IOL).

However, some individuals may notice minor changes in their eyes, such as a reduction in the cloudiness associated with cataracts and the emergence of a clearer pupil.

Additionally, during the healing process, temporary conditions like mild redness, mild swelling, or a subtle bruising-like appearance of the eye’s white surface can occur but should gradually resolve, leaving the eyes looking clearer and more vibrant as the recovery progresses.


In the First Few Hours After Your Surgery

In the first few hours following cataract surgery, the eyes may undergo several changes and exhibit specific physical aspects. Here’s what to expect during this immediate post-operative period:

Puffiness and Swelling: It’s common for the eyelids and the area around the eyes to be slightly swollen and puffy in the hours immediately after cataract surgery. This puffiness is a normal response to the surgical process and will often subside within a day or two.

Redness: The eyes may appear slightly red or bloodshot immediately after the procedure. This redness is typically due to minor irritation caused by the surgery itself and the eye drops administered during the procedure, which diminishes as the eye heals.

Protective Shield and Eye Drops: Immediately following cataract surgery, patients are often provided with a protective eye shield or patch to wear for a few hours or overnight. This shield helps prevent accidental contact with the eye and promotes healing. Eye drops will be used to aid the recovery process.


24 Hours After Cataract Surgery

Approximately 24 hours after cataract surgery, you can expect to see some noticeable healing and changes in the appearance and condition of the eyes.

Reduced Puffiness: After the first 24 hours post-surgery, the puffiness and swelling around the eyes will generally start to diminish. The application of cold compresses as recommended by your surgeon can help expedite this process.

Improved Clarity: Vision typically continues to improve, and you may notice that it becomes clearer and less hazy compared to the immediate hours after the surgery.

Redness Subsiding: Any redness or bloodshot appearance in the eyes should begin to fade as the eyes heal. The redness is often associated with minor irritation from the surgery and eye drops.

Use of Eye Drops: You will continue to use prescribed eye drops as instructed to promote healing and prevent infection.

No More Protective Shield: After the first night, you may no longer need to wear the protective eye shield or patch that was provided immediately after surgery. Your surgeon will guide you on when it is safe to remove it.

Optegra surgeons are renowned experts in the field of cataract surgery
Optegra Eye Hospital

Within 1-2 Days After Surgery

Within 1 to 2 days of cataract surgery, your eyes should continue to show signs of healing and improvement.

Reduced Swelling: The puffiness and swelling around the eyes, which may have been noticeable in the immediate hours after surgery, should continue to subside, and the area around the eyes will appear less swollen.

Clearer Vision: Your vision should become progressively clearer and sharper as your eyes heal. Any initial haziness or blurriness that may have been experienced post-surgery will typically resolve during this time frame.

Diminished Redness: The redness or bloodshot appearance of the eyes, which is often a result of surgical irritation, will usually continue to diminish as the eyes heal. Redness may still be present but should be less pronounced.

Eye Drops: Continued use of the prescribed eye drops as directed by the surgeon is normal. These drops are crucial for promoting healing, reducing the risk of infection, and maintaining eye comfort.

Minimal Discomfort: Any discomfort or gritty sensations in the eyes should be minimal or absent by this point, but it’s essential to follow the prescribed regimen of pain relief and lubricating eye drops for your comfort.


Up to One Week Later

A week after cataract surgery, several positive changes in the appearance and condition of the eyes are typically observed:

Clear Vision: Most patients experience significantly improved and clearer vision compared to the period immediately following surgery. Vision should continue to sharpen, and colours may appear more vibrant.

Minimal Swelling: Any puffiness or swelling around the eyes should have substantially diminished by this point. The area around the eyes is likely to look more natural and less swollen.

Reduced Redness: While there might still be a slight trace of redness, it is usually much less noticeable. Any redness is a common side effect of the surgery but should continue to fade.

Normal Eye Appearance: At this stage, the eyes generally look more normal and natural, and the eyes should appear quite healthy.

Continued Use of Eye Drops: Your surgeon may recommend a gradual reduction in the frequency of eye drop usage, but you will likely continue using prescribed drops to ensure proper healing and eye comfort. However, you should follow the tailored guidance set out by your surgeon.

Over the Last Few Weeks of Your Recovery

In the final weeks of recovery from cataract surgery, patients can expect to see several positive changes in their vision and overall eye health. These changes reflect the success and safety of the procedure, reinforcing its profound impact on quality of life:

Optimal Clarity: Vision continues to sharpen, and patients often achieve their best post-surgery vision a few weeks after the procedure. Colours appear more vibrant, and images are crisper, improving overall clarity.

Minimal Discomfort: Any residual discomfort or dryness that may have been present initially is usually minimal or absent. Eye comfort is restored, allowing for a more enjoyable daily life.

No Noticeable Swelling or Redness: By the final weeks of recovery, any lingering puffiness, swelling, or redness around the eyes is generally no longer visible. The eyes appear normal and healthy.

Reduced Sensitivity to Light: Light sensitivity (a non-physical consequence of cataract surgery experienced by some) is greatly reduced, and patients typically feel comfortable in various lighting conditions without experiencing glare or discomfort.

Freedom from Glasses: Many patients find they no longer require glasses or contact lenses for distance or near vision, significantly improving their overall quality of life. The freedom from visual aids can be life-changing, especially for those who have worn glasses for many years. At Optegra, we offer various types of cataract surgery, including monofocal and multifocal lenses. Patients can choose the lens type that best fits their lifestyle and vision goals.

Cataract surgery is a highly safe and effective procedure, and the positive changes observed during the recovery process underscore its success. It not only restores clear vision, but also greatly enhances the quality of life for individuals who were previously experiencing vision impairment due to cataracts. This improved vision allows them to engage in daily activities with ease, read, drive, and enjoy the world around them more fully. The benefits of cataract surgery extend beyond mere vision correction, contributing to an overall sense of well-being and an improved quality of life for many patients.

Successful cataract surgery can reduce or eliminate the need for glasses

You May Experience a ‘Glimmer’ After Cataract Surgery

After cataract surgery, a few individuals may experience a glimmer or reflection of light, particularly when viewing bright lights or in challenging lighting conditions. This phenomenon is often caused by the presence of the intraocular lens (IOL) that was implanted during the surgery and is a result of the way light interacts with the IOL and the eye itself.

The glimmers of light can manifest as starbursts, halos, or streaks around light sources, such as car headlights at night or bright streetlights. These visual effects are more common when the pupil is dilated, such as in low-light conditions.

It’s important to note that these glimmers are generally mild and transient, often diminishing in intensity and frequency as the eye continues to heal and adapt to the new IOL. Many individuals may not experience these glimmers at all. While they can be a temporary side effect, they are generally considered a minor trade-off for the significant improvement in vision achieved through cataract surgery.

Remember, if at any point following your cataract surgery at Optegra you have any questions, you’ll have instant access to our comprehensive aftercare support.


You’re in Safe Hands: Meet Our Cataract Surgeons

While cataract surgery can be daunting, it is an incredibly safe and routine procedure. At Optegra, our renowned cataract surgeons are NHS-trained and Fellows of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCO). We are a dedicated eye hospital that performs over 35,000 cataract surgeries a year with a success rate of 99.6%. If you’re considering cataract surgery, why not speak to one of our advisors today to see how we can help.

Amir Hamid Headshot

By Author: Amir Hamid

Mr. Amir Hamid is a Clinical Lead for Vision Correction and an expert refractive surgeon, based in London.

Medically Reviewed Date: 27th October 2023


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