While most people worry about the surgery itself, recovering after glaucoma surgery takes a little bit of planning as well. Knowing what to expect following your procedure can help ensure you recover quickly without complications. Fortunately, you can make glaucoma surgery recovery as easy as possible by following your surgeon’s aftercare instructions.
Your surgeon’s recovery instructions can vary depending on the procedure you receive. However, basic instructions such as medicated eye drops, avoiding eye strain, and protecting your eye from infection remain largely the same. Recovery times can vary with a month being the average. Side effects like swelling and redness are common. Be on the lookout for signs of infection and alert your doctor immediately if you have any.
The Basics of Glaucoma Surgery Recovery
Following your surgeon’s aftercare instructions is of the utmost importance when recovering from glaucoma surgery. Instructions will vary depending on the type of procedure you undergo and the severity of your condition. While each case is different, you can usually expect your surgeon to offer some general rules.
Common recovery guidelines include:
- Use prescribed eye drops as instructed
- Avoid lifting heavy objects
- Don’t swim or use hot tubs
- Don’t rub or push on your eye
- Keep your eye clean and protected from debris
- Schedule a followup appointment to see how you’re recovery is going
Prescription Eye Drops
Prescribed eye drops help reduce inflammation inside your eye and prevent infection during the recovery process. They are very important for maintaining the health of your eye following surgery, so make sure that you’re following your surgeon’s instructions.
Lifting Heavy Objects
Bending over and lifting heavy objects can add increased pressure on your eyes. To get the best results possible from your surgery, avoid any heavy lifting or other strenuous activities for a while afterwards.
Swimming and Hot Tubs
Avoid chlorine pools, lakes, oceans, and hot tubs for around a month after glaucoma surgery. These environments increase your risk of infection due to bacteria, and you should keep your eyes as germ-free as possible during your recovery period.
Rubbing and Pushing Your Eye
Avoid rubbing or pushing your eye following your glaucoma surgery. While your eyes may feel itchy or irritated after your procedure, avoid applying any pressure on them that may interfere with your treatment.
Keeping Your Eye Clean
Keep your eyes clear of debris as much as possible while you recover. Dust, dirt, and grime stirred up by wind can be especially dangerous. To protect your eyes, make sure to wear sunglasses or other protective eyewear outside and whenever else it may be necessary.
Schedule a Follow-Up Appointment
Followup appointments with your ophthalmologist are essential for keeping track of your progress. Your surgeon will check for any complications that may arise following your procedure and help keep your recovery on track.
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How long is recovery after glaucoma surgery?
The recovery period following glaucoma surgery will depend on the type of procedure you undergo. In general, you can expect to resume your normal daily life the day after laser surgery. It can take around a month to reach full recovery. However, more intensive procedures may require you to avoid reading, driving, or other activities that could result in eye strain.
Less invasive procedures tend to heal much more quickly, such as with minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). This is due to minimally invasive procedures not changing the shape or structure of the eye in any major way.
More traditional surgeries may take a bit longer. While they can help to significantly reduce the pressure in your eye, they may also result in the temporary blurring of vision from suturing. This can be the case if you happen to have astigmatism. Click here to learn more about astigmatism.
Recovery can also be drawn out due to other factors, but recovery periods lasting months are rare. According to Dr. E. Randy Craven, chief of the Wilmer Eye Institute – Bethesda Associate Professor of Ophthalmology:
However, recovery can be slowed by the severity of the glaucoma and other conflicting factors, such as blood thinners or the eye’s reaction to the procedure. Most people notice recovery in vision in days to weeks after the surgery. Instances of monthslong recovery are also possible, although very uncommon.Dr. E. Randy Craven
Common Side Effects After Glaucoma Surgery
Most patients who undergo glaucoma surgery don’t experience pain during the recovery process. However, there are some other common side effects that you should be aware of. Being aware of these common side effects can help you and your surgeon gauge your recovery process.
The most common side effect is blurry vision immediately following surgery. Fortunately, this side effect often goes away in the days and weeks following your procedure. Other common side effects include:
- Feeling like something is stuck in your eye
The side effects of glaucoma surgery can be frustrating and tempt you to rub or push on your eye. To help prevent this, your surgeon will likely provide you with an eye shield. This will keep you from rubbing your eye, as well as protect it from debris. On the other hand, some glaucoma procedures don’t require an eye shield.
Possible Complications After Glaucoma Surgery
Using your prescribed eye drops and eye shield will greatly reduce your risk of complications from glaucoma surgery. Following your surgeon’s instructions after glaucoma surgery will also help keep your eye safe while it heals.
Unfortunately, like with any other procedure, there is still a risk of infection no matter how small. Your surgeon will look for signs during your follow-up appointments. In the meantime, be on the lookout for any eye problems such as:
- Dimmed vision
- Decreased vision
These may be signs of infection. Contact your surgeon immediately to help treat the infection and prevent it from getting worse.
Make sure to follow all of your surgeon’s aftercare instructions after your glaucoma surgery. Instructions can vary based on the type of procedure you receive, but tips such as not pushing on your eye and avoiding water remain the same. Recovery times can vary depending on your procedure and the severity of your condition, but around a month is average. Let your surgeon know about any signs of infection so you can receive treatment immediately.
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