Cataract surgery is done to remove a cataract in your eye. It’s a common and generally safe procedure, and you can go home immediately after.
However, as with most surgeries, you’ll need to wait before jumping back into your regular exercise routine.
The typical timeframe for resuming exercise after cataract surgery depends on the activity. You can do light exercise within the first week, but more strenuous activity should be avoided for several weeks. This will ensure that your eye properly heals.
Read on to learn more about how you can safely exercise after cataract surgery.
Your eye doctor can provide the best advice about when you can exercise after cataract surgery. They can offer recommendations for your specific situation, so be sure to follow their guidelines.
Here’s a general timeframe for when you can resume different levels of physical activity:
Week 1 after surgery
In the week after surgery, you can do low-impact physical activities, such as:
- walking outdoors
- gentle walking on a treadmill
- light household chores
- gentle stretching (without bending at the waist)
Avoid bending and lifting anything over 10 to 15 pounds, including laundry and groceries. This can increase pressure in your eyes and interfere with proper healing.
Week 2 after surgery
At 2 weeks, your doctor may clear you for moderate-level activities, such as:
- brisk walking
- slow dancing
Weeks 4 to 6 after surgery
You should be able to resume more intense physical activities. These can include:
- intense cycling
Again, check with your eye doctor before returning to this level of exercise.
Complications after cataract surgery are rare but possible.
Symptoms of serious side effects include:
- increasing eye pain, redness, or stickiness
- increasing swelling inside or in front of the eye
- decreasing vision
- blurry vision
- eye bleeding
- pain that doesn’t respond to pain medication
- seeing glares or dark shadows
The above symptoms may indicate a serious complication, such as:
- eye infection
- retinal detachment
- changes in eye pressure
- eye damage
- dislocation of the intraocular lens (IOL) implant
- secondary cataract
Contact your eye doctor if you feel that something is wrong with your eye. Side effects can be resolved if they’re treated as soon as possible.
A cataract is when the lens, which is normally clear, becomes cloudy. It occurs when proteins in the lens collect and clump together. Cataracts develop slowly and become more common with age.
Over time, a cataract can make it difficult for you to see, especially at night.
The only way to remove a cataract is with surgery. This procedure involves replacing the cloudy lens with an artificial lens known as an IOL.
Generally, you’ll need surgery if a cataract interferes with daily activities, like watching television or driving. You may also need the procedure if the cataract makes it difficult to treat other eye disorders.
Before surgery, your eye doctor will assess your eyes and eyesight. This will help them plan the procedure.
Here’s what you can expect during the surgery:
- First, a medical professional will put numbing drops in your eye so you won’t feel pain. You’ll be awake during the surgery.
- The doctor will cut into your eye with a tiny tool and remove the cloudy lens.
- Next, they’ll insert the artificial lens. The entire surgery will take about 30 to 60 minutes.
- The doctor will place a bandage over your eye to protect it.
- You’ll rest in a recovery area, where medical professionals will monitor you.
- Before you go home, the doctor will provide aftercare instructions. You’ll need a family member, friend, or transportation service to take you home.
Cataract surgery is done on one eye at a time. If you need surgery in both eyes, you’ll need to wait about 4 weeks between the two procedures.
In general, it’s safe to do light exercise the first week after cataract surgery. This includes walking and stretching without bending at the waist.
By the second week, you can resume moderate-intensity activity.
At 4 to 6 weeks, you should be fully healed. At this point, it’s usually safe to do vigorous activity like weightlifting or running.
The exact timeframe when you can safely resume your exercise routine will be different for each person. Always follow the doctor’s instructions and attend your follow-up appointments. This way, your doctor can check your progress and make sure your eye is healing properly.