Can you wear contact lenses after cataract surgery?

Surgeons tape eye patch onto patient during cataract surgery

We sometimes get the question from customers about whether it is possible to wear contact lenses after cataract surgery. Before we answer this question, let's first explain something about cataracts.

Cataracts are an eye disease that mainly occurs in old age. The lens of the eye becomes cloudy and, as a result, the vision becomes dulled. Cataracts can occur in one eye or both eyes. The clouding of the lens of the eye is caused by the clumping of proteins in the eye. These proteins then form a kind of 'cloud', which causes blurry vision. If left untreated, this cloud can grow and eventually obscure vision. During cataract surgery, the natural, cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens to restore vision.

Fortunately, cataract surgery is a relatively easy procedure. But what happens after cataract surgery? Can you still wear contact lenses? And if so, is there anything else you should consider when wearing contact lenses after cataract surgery? For example, can you wear multifocal lenses after cataract surgery? Read on to find the answers to these questions.

Contact lenses

Do you still need to correct your vision after cataract surgery?

If the goal of cataract surgery is to improve vision, it's normal to wonder if you'll still need vision correction afterwards. If it contributes to better sight, it is however important to note that a cataract operation is not a refractive surgery operation whose primary goal is to correct a common visual defect, such as myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism or presbyopia. If the new intraocular implant allows you to see from afar without any problem, you may need to correct your near vision.

Either way, cataract surgery can affect your vision and the lenses you wore in the past will no longer fit. It is therefore mandatory to pass an eye test to review your prescription. If you have a prescription for contact lenses, you will need to wait between 6 and 8 weeks before making an appointment with your ophthalmologist, so that your eye has time to heal and your vision stabilises.

Can contact lenses be worn after cataract surgery?

Yes, it is possible to wear contact lenses after cataract surgery but certain post-operative rules must be respected depending on the type of lenses you have. The most important of these requires waiting the length of time prescribed by your ophthalmologist before resuming wearing lenses, to allow time for your eye to heal. If you wear contact lenses the day after surgery, you increase the risk of eye infections and complications that can delay the healing process.

Typically, patients can leave the hospital on the same day as their cataract surgery. They just have to wear a plastic shell for protection. While your eye may recover in just a few hours, it may take several days for your vision to fully return to normal. Total healing usually takes between 4 and 6 weeks after cataract surgery. Of course, these numbers are only an estimate. The time it takes for the eye to heal varies from person to person. It is therefore essential to consult your ophthalmologist to determine when it is safe to wear contact lenses again. In the meantime, you may need reading or prescription glasses.

When you finally have the green light to put your contact lenses on again, it will be even more important than before to follow the care instructions to the letter to ensure good hygiene for your eyes and your lenses. If you don't want to embarrass yourself, you can also opt for daily contact lenses instead of monthly or 2 weekly lenses, to limit maintenance and reduce the risk of infection.

Are contact lenses allowed before cataract surgery?

Man puts contact lens in eye

This is the other big question to ask yourself when preparing for cataract surgery. The first step is the preparatory consultation, which usually takes place a week before the operation, during which your eyesight will be checked and the best type of artificial lens will be determined. At this time you can ask any additional questions you might have. If you wear soft contact lenses, you must stop wearing them at least 8 days before the consultation. In the case of semi-rigid and rigid lenses, the duration of interruption of wearing is 2 weeks before the consultation. This is the necessary condition to accurately perform the topography of the cornea.

You will also need to remove your soft contact lenses at least 24 hours before the operation. For rigid contact lenses, it will take at least 2 days. This is just one of the guidelines to follow when preparing for cataract surgery. Among the other contraindications, you will also be asked not to wear make-up, perfume or jewellery. In terms of food, you will be advised to eat a hearty breakfast the morning before your operation.