Following Cataract Surgery – Post-operative Eye Care And Advice

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-015/2023
  • Departments: Ophthalmology Department
  • Last Updated: 31 May 2023


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your post operative eye care following your cataract operation.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

Discharge home – Symptoms which may indicate a problem with the eye

Upon your discharge home if you experience any of the problems listed below please contact the Ophthalmic Ward (Ward 35) immediately.  These symptoms can be a sign of a complication inside the eye such as raised eye pressure, infection or inflammation.

Contact the Ophthalmic Ward immediately if you experience:

  • Severe pain
  • An eye that steadily becomes more rather than less uncomfortable or painful with each day
  • Loss of vision
  • Increasing redness of the eye
  • Discharge from the eye

What happens after my surgery?

You will need to use eye drops for 4 weeks after your operation to help the eye heal and prevent infection. You will have a telephone assessment, by our nursing staff, a week following cataract surgery (for both first and second eye operations). If any problems or concerns are reported, then a post-operative eye check will be arranged at the Eye Hospital. If you have undergone cataract surgery in the second eye and you do not have any pre-existing eye conditions that require monitoring or treatment, you will not receive further appointments in the Eye Clinic (unless problems are reported during your telephone consultation). You are advised to visit your own optician or optometrist to update your glasses 4 weeks after your surgery, at the earliest.

How to use your eye drops:

  1. Read the label on the bottle and make sure you know into which eye the drops are to be used.
  2. Wash your hands, remove the bottle cap.
  3. Tilt your head backwards and look towards the ceiling. With your finger, gently pull on the lower lid to form a pocket. You may find it easier to sit or stand in front of a mirror.
  4. Squeeze the bottle until the number of drops prescribed have gone into the eye.
  5. Do not touch the eye and eye lid with the bottle nozzle.
  6. Close your eye and blink several times.
  7. Excess liquid can be gently wiped away using a clean tissue.
  8. If you are using more than one type of eye drop, then wait a few minutes before putting in the second lot of eye drops, then repeat steps 1-6.

If you are having difficulty, it may be better to ask someone to put the drops in for you, following the above procedure.

Throw away the eye drop bottle four weeks after the bottle has been opened.  Do not use the drops longer than you have been told to by the Eye Hospital staff.

How often should I put the drops in my eye?

You need to use the eye drops as detailed below. The information is also included on your copy of the discharge letter given to you with your eye drops. In some patients, we may need to alter the type and frequency of the drops used. Specific instructions will be on your discharge letter.

How often should I put the drops in my eye?

Week 1

  • Tobradex – 1 drop, 4 times a day
  • Yellox – 1 drop, twice a day

Week 2

  • Tobradex – 1 drop, 3 times a day
  • Yellox – 1 drop, twice a day

Week 3

  • Tobradex – 1 drop, 3 times a day

Week 4

  • Tobradex – 1 drop, once a day

Important points to follow:

  • It is normal for the eye to appear red, feel gritty and itchy for a while after cataract surgery. Some clear fluid discharge is common. After a week, even mild discomfort should disappear. In most cases, healing will take between 2 and 6 weeks
  • You may notice some dried blood on the inside of your cornea care plaster (eye dressing). This is normal and is the result of having a sub-tenon local anaesthetic (the injection given to you before the cataract surgery)
  • You can take the eye dressing off in the late evening, before going to bed but you are advised to keep the eye covered with the given plastic eye shield overnight
  • You may undergo the surgery using topical anaesthesia (eye drops) alone in which case the eye does not need to be covered
  • You should avoid heavy lifting and straining for the first week
  • You should avoid getting shampoo and soap into your eye for 1 week. Wash your hair “salon style” in this first week
  • You should avoid swimming for 4 weeks
  • It is essential that the eye does not undergo any form of direct trauma including rubbing the eye, especially in the first 4 weeks following surgery. Avoid any sporting activities or hobbies where this is a possibility

Important points to note:

  • Usually no stitches are required at the end of the operation. If it has been necessary to use a stitch, it will usually dissolve in 4 to 6 weeks if a dissolvable stitch has been used. You may feel a pricking sensation from this stitch. In some cases a non-dissolvable stitch is used. This will need to be removed at a follow up visit. You will be advised about which type of stitch has been used
  • You should wait 1 to 2 weeks before resuming your normal daily activities
  • You must not drive until you reach the minimum legal standard of vision. You can ask your optician about this when you go for your spectacle test following surgery
  • You do not normally need long term follow up in the Eye Clinic (most people visit their own optician on a yearly basis)
  • If you have a pre-existing or newly diagnosed eye condition, you will be offered further follow up appointments in the Eye Clinic
  • The replacement lens in your eye does not wear out. However there is the risk that the membrane that lies behind the replacement lens can become cloudy. This is called ‘Posterior Capsular Opacification’ or PCO. PCO develops at different rates in different eyes.  It causes symptoms like blurred vision or glare. Sometimes patients think that their cataract has returned. If you think this is happening, then your Optician or GP will refer you to the Eye Clinic for treatment. This is a painless outpatient laser treatment and only takes a few minutes to perform

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, if you experience any of these problems or are worried about your eye then please contact:

Ward 35, Hull Royal Infirmary on (01482) 604346

Eye Clinic (01482) 608788 – (Monday-Friday 8.30am-5.00pm).

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

QR code to open leaflet