There are some restrictions after cataract surgery, such as keeping your eye covered and dry, not driving, and avoiding dust. Within a few days or weeks, you’ll likely be back to your typical activities.

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If you’re planning for an upcoming cataract surgery, your doctor will provide information on any restrictions you’ll need to follow after surgery and for how long.

These restrictions are in place to keep your eye as safe and healthy as possible as it heals. Many people recover within 2–8 weeks after their cataract surgery and can resume their typical activities.

Read on for more information about caring for your eyes after cataract surgery.

Learn more about cataract surgery.

Compared with other surgeries, recovering from cataract surgery is often quick. You’ll go home the same day as your surgery. You’ll have a bandage and a plastic shield over your eye. You may be able to remove the shield the day after surgery, but you’ll likely need to wear it for a few weeks while you sleep.

You may experience a few eye symptoms as the anesthetic wears off, such as:

Within a couple of days, you may notice that your vision has improved. You may also be able to resume most of your daily activities with a few precautions.

You’ll probably want to rest the day you have your surgery, but you’ll likely feel much better the next day.

Following your cataract surgery, you’ll need to avoid certain activities for a few days up to a month or more. Your doctor can provide you with a handout that explains what to avoid and for how long.

Here are some common precautions after cataract surgery:


  • drive, until your doctor says it’s OK
  • wear contact lenses
  • rub or scratch your eye
  • go swimming, take a sauna, or use a hot tub
  • get soap or water in your eye
  • wear eye makeup
  • do strenuous exercise or lift heavy objects
  • use face cream or lotion near your eyes
  • color or perm your hair (for 1–2 weeks)
  • dust or garden
  • fly, until your doctor approves it


  • use eye drops as directed by your doctor
  • wear dark sunglasses when outside
  • wear a protective shield over your eye while sleeping for as long as your doctor recommends

You may be able to resume some activities within a few days or a week. Other activities may take up to 8 weeks to resume.

Your ophthalmologist will let you know when you can resume each of your typical activities that you had to stop or change due to surgery.

When can I drive after cataract surgery?

You won’t be able to drive yourself home following your cataract surgery; you’ll need someone to help you. You can begin driving again when your ophthalmologist clears you and says it’s safe to do so. That may be after your first follow-up appointment.

How much time will I miss from work?

You may be able to return to work within 2–3 days following your eye surgery. Your ophthalmologist will let you know when you can return to work. They can also provide you with documents explaining how long you will be out of work.

When can I wear makeup again?

It may be a few days to a few weeks before you can wear makeup again. Makeup often has bacteria in it, and there’s a risk of infection if you return to wearing it too soon. You may also want to consider getting new, clean makeup and tossing out your old eye makeup to use once your eye has healed.

How long do I need to wait before I can have cataract surgery in my other eye?

You’ll need to wait until your eye is completely healed and your vision is good before having cataract surgery on your other eye. That will depend on how fast you heal and if you have any complications. Your ophthalmologist will discuss this with you at your follow-up appointment.

When will my vision be good again?

Up to 95% of people report improved vision after cataract surgery. Some people see improvement within a few days and have full vision within 2 weeks to 1 month.

Your results will depend on your vision before cataract surgery, if you have any other eye conditions, how your surgical incision heals, and any remaining refractive errors in your vision.

Following cataract surgery, there are certain activities you’ll need to avoid for a few days or a few weeks until your eye has healed. These precautions are in place to help make sure that your eye heals fully and that you avoid complications like an eye infection.