At Ophthalmic Associates of the Southern Tier, your cataract surgery is a well-planned procedure using the industry’s most advanced equipment. Being cared for by one of the most capable, experienced teams in the Southern Tier also means that every aspect of your surgery, from your pre-op exams to your recovery, will be handled by compassionate doctors.

We get a lot of questions about recovery, and it’s understandable that our patients want to know when they can get back on their feet and enjoy their new vision. Since many prospective patients enjoy an active lifestyle, they worry that surgery of any kind will come with setbacks in their fitness. A common question we get is about exercise: what level of strain is alright for your recovering eyes after cataract surgery? There isn’t a set answer, but we do have some guidelines about exercise and eye strain for anyone who comes to us for cataract surgery.

Exercise and eye strain after Cataract Surgery

What Can You Expect During Recovery from Cataract Surgery?

While we take our time with our cataract patients to ensure the best possible outcomes, the procedure is not overly complicated. The lens, a disc of precisely organized material just behind the outer layer of the eyeball, is a crucial part of our vision. Over time, the natural lens can break down and become clouded, causing vision to worsen. This is called a cataract.

Cataract surgery involves breaking up a cataract in your eye and safely removing it, before replacing it with a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL). Surgery is done quickly, with low risk and excellent outcomes: over 95% of surgeries result in 20/40 vision or better. At Ophthalmic Associates, we pride ourselves on our blade-free LenSx® Laser cataract surgery, which is an improvement on traditional cataract surgery in every department. We also offer the greatest variety of premium IOLs in the region, used to further improve your vision after cataract surgery.

In general, cataract removal has a smooth recovery, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions to protect the results. For the first day after surgery, we recommend limiting your movement, including any activity that might strain your eyes. We also advise you to avoid touching of your eyes as much as possible. After you come in for a checkup 24 hours after surgery, we can help you figure out what timeline for activity makes the most sense in your individual recovery.

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Exercise After Cataract Surgery?

Until your next-day checkup with us, you shouldn’t do anything remotely strenuous — even bending over or lifting anything heavier than a few pounds. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Your eyes need time to heal: Tasks that may not directly affect your eyes can still put pressure or strain on them, including jogging, bending, and lifting.
  • Your vision will be blurry after surgery: The chances of you bumping into things, falling, or making other miscalculations in your movement are higher than normal.
  • Many exercises involve risky environments for healing eyes: Dusty fields, pollen-covered parks, unclean pools, bacteria-filled fitness centers — these places can get debris and other unwanted foreign bodies into your recovering eyes.

Even if you’re feeling fine, our Binghamton eye surgery team will recommend only light exercise once they believe your eyes are ready for it. This can include going for walks, stretching, and other low-impact activities. You’ll be expected to limit your exercise for the first few weeks after cataract surgery, and to avoid swimming for at least a month or so. Your eye surgeon will have more answers for your specific situation.

How Much Can You Lift After Cataract Surgery?

Immediately after surgery, you shouldn’t be bending down or lifting at all. Once you’re cleared for light exercise, you should still minimize bending over to a point where blood rushes to your head. You should also avoid lifting anything that weighs more than 5 to 10 pounds. Because heavy lifting and other strenuous activities involve a temporary increase in blood pressure, these actions put particular pressure on your eyes.

Cataract Surgery Recovery with Ophthalmic Associates

When it comes to exercising after eye surgery, especially cataract surgery, each individual case is different from the next. At Ophthalmic Associates, we don’t like to give any standard answers to questions like these because we don’t want to put our patients at risk of injury.

Our team is led by Daniel Sambursky, M.D., F.A.C.S., a pioneer in laser vision correction who has developed both cataract surgeries and IOLs to improve vision after cataract surgery. The team at Ophthalmic Associates has completed over 35,000 successful cataract surgeries for residents of the Binghamton area, and we look forward to providing improved vision and eye health to a growing number of patients in the years to come. Call us at (607) 729-5016 or request an appointment to learn more.