How to Actually Sleep After Cataract Surgery


The thought of having cataract surgery on our eyes is enough to make most of us slightly apprehensive. Over the course of our lives, however, there may come a time when we are forced to brave the procedure for the sake of our vision. If such a time has come for you, you may be relieved to know that surgery for cataract removal is one the most common ophthalmologic operations in the United States, and is known to be a safe, hassle-free experience.

As a typically straightforward procedure, you can expect the healing process and time to be equally uneventful. But the question is still there: How do you sleep after having cataract surgery on your eye? Fortunately, even your eye surgeon will inform you that with some care, your daily activities, including sleeping, can resume as usual in no time.

Within just hours of your procedure, you will be able to do simple activities such as reading a book, watching TV, or using the computer for short amounts of time. You should notice some progression in your vision within a couple of days, some people seeing results almost immediately. Healing times for each person will vary, but your eye should be fully healed about one month after the surgery.

How to Sleep After Cataract Surgery

Because cataract surgery is an uncomplicated outpatient procedure, you will be treated and sent home within a few hours of being admitted for your appointment. After the surgery, it is crucial to follow all of the aftercare instructions that your surgeon gives you, which will make for a smooth and successful recovery.

It isn’t uncommon to feel some tiredness after your procedure. If this is the case, it is encouraged that you take a nap and rest your eyes. When it comes time to lay down, here are a few ways that you can be sure to do so without worrying about harming your eye.

  • Leave the eye patch on – While some doctors won’t insist that you wear a protective shield for more than a day or two after surgery, many will recommend that you at least sleep with it on for up to two weeks. This is especially important for people who have a habit of rubbing their eyes in their sleep or tend to rub their eyes as soon as they wake up. If you have itchy eyes due to the surgery, allergies, or live in an area with a lot of debris (such as construction areas, or high foliage areas), wearing the patch will help protect the eye and will stop you from inadvertently rubbing your eye in your sleep.
  • Apply eye drops – Following the surgery, your ophthalmologist will prescribe drops or other medications to help prevent infections and inflammation. Using the drops according to the schedule will ensure that your eyes are healing safely and will minimize future complications. Keeping inflammation at bay will also help with any discomfort.
  • Sleep on the opposite side – While your eye is healing, it’s essential to avoid putting any pressure on it. Even though there is no recommended position to sleep in, if you are a side sleeper, it’s best to sleep on the non-operative side. Additionally, sleeping on your back may help to keep the protective shield in place without it shifting or coming off.

Often, after a surgical procedure, patients receive a prescription for pain medication; however, after cataract surgery, the pain is usually mildly irritating at its worst. If you do find it difficult to sleep because of any discomfort in your eye, speak to your surgeon at your follow-up appointment for the best option to relieve the pain.

Other Sleep Tips

For the most part, cataract patients do not report any difficulties with their sleep patterns after surgery. If you find that the stress of the procedure has left you feeling slightly sleepless, try some calming techniques such as deep breathing, reading, or any other activities that help you relax.

For the first couple of weeks after your surgery, or until you are cleared by your surgeon, it is best to avoid any activities that will put pressure on your eye or will get water into it, including:

  • Heavy lifting
  • Strenuous exercises
  • Bending over
  • Swimming

Even though most cases report a smooth transition after surgery, do not be alarmed if you experience some side effects such as bruising, red eyes, itchiness, or blurred vision. Side effects typically resolve themselves after a few days. For all other concerns or questions regarding your cataract surgery, be sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner for optimal healing results. (Source)

Other Considerations

After cataract surgery it is very common to require reading glasses. I personally use ThinOptics Reading Glasses (link to Amazon) because they have a great selection for different styles at different strength levels. I absolutely love mine, they come in most handy while reading small print!

Tiara Croft

Tiara is an avid sleeper and fully dedicated to her work and research. Most often this includes, but is not limited to, napping, testing how many hours in one night that she can sleep, trying new sleep methods and constantly changing sleep positions. Tiara's main focuses are on dreams and how we can achieve the best natural sleep possible. As a sufferer of insomnia and other sleep-related disturbances, Tiara loves to dig deep into the subconscious to ask all the questions that can help us better understand what happens when we sleep.

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