Eye Irritation After Cataract Surgery

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While eye irritation after cataract surgery is not uncommon, significant complications are rare. it is important that you know when to call your doctor and what you should do. Following your eye surgery, you will probably be prescribed several eye drops which will help protect your eye from infection, decrease pain and help control any irritation after cataract surgery.

What To Expect After Cataract Surgery

It is not uncommon for patients with eye irritation after cataract surgery to complain of an itching and mild, pressure-like discomfort in the eye that was operated on. Additionally, you may notice some discharge from the eye. Wipe the eye gently using a damp washcloth to remove any discharge. Immediately after surgery you may have blurry vision as well. Depending on the type of surgery you had, you may notice that colors appear very bright. See your eye doctor after your eye heals from surgery, as you may require a new prescription for your glasses.

Some eye irritation after cataract surgery is due to dry eyes. Dry eye risk factors include certain anticholinergics like Benadryl or antihistamines like Claritin. Make sure your doctor knows all of the medications you current take. Additionally, increasing age, female gender and being post-menopausal also increases the risk of dry eye irritation after cataract surgery. Certain medical conditions also increase your risk of dry eye, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Sjögren’s syndrome.

You should avoid rubbing your eye immediately after surgery and your eye doctor may have you wear an eye patch or eye guard to prevent you from accidentally causing damage. Eye guards can be extremely helpful in preventing damage you your eye while sleeping. Discomfort experienced after surgery should significantly improve after one to two days.


Additional precautions to prevent eye irritation after cataract surgery include:

  • Avoid getting dust or soap in the eye
  • Avoid swimming
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity
  • Do not lift heavy objects
  • Do not bend over

When To Seek Medical Assistance

Cataract surgery can increase your risk of retinal detachment. Make sure you call your doctor immediately if you experience:

  • An acute worsening of your vision
  • Severe pain or pain that does not improve with over the counter medications like Tylenol or Advil
  • Eye dryness or feeling like there is something in your eye
  • Spots or floaters that seem
  • Light flashes
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Coughing

Make sure you understand everything the doctor is trying to tell you. If you do not understand your doctor’s instructions or how you need to care for your eye, ask questions until you do. Take notes or bring someone else with you to make sure you understand. Get written instructions about activities and limitations.


Roberts CW, Elie ER. Dry Eye Symptoms Following Cataract Surgery. The Journal of the American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses. January-March 2007.

National Eye Institute. Facts About Cataract. https://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts.asp