Can You Drive After Cataract Surgery?
The development of cataracts in your eyes can affect your life in a number of ways. Most obviously, cataracts can significantly impair your vision, making it increasingly difficult to perform everyday tasks. But it’s easy to forget how much these things can affect your independence – after all, our vision is something we take for granted for everything from reading to driving.
Many patients are, therefore, eager to learn when they can return to their normal routine after receiving treatment for their cataracts. So, in this article, we’re going to answer the common question: Can you drive after Cataract Surgery?
Cataracts and Driving
It likely won’t surprise you to learn that, as cataracts develop, they can significantly hinder your ability to drive – and carry out many other activities – safely. In fact, if left untreated, cataracts can even cause permanent vision loss and even blindness.
When cataracts form, the eye’s natural lens becomes increasingly clouded, eventually causing significant obstruction to clear vision. For this reason, your eye doctor may advise that you should no longer drive or operate heavy machinery.
At which point this will occur will depend on the severity of your cataracts and your standard of vision. For example, if you do have cataracts but your vision is still up to driving standard, you may be able to continue driving.
The standards of vision for driving in the UK are as follows. You must:
- be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres away
- meet the minimum driving standard of 6/12 on the Snellen scale
- have an adequate field of vision.
However, if your vision is unable to meet any of these standards, your licence could be revoked. You must also tell the DVLA if you have any problem with your eyesight that affects both of your eyes or the remaining eye if you only have one eye, including cataracts.
So, what about after Cataract Surgery?
How Does Cataract Surgery Affect Your Vision?
As you might expect, having cataracts removed can improve your vision significantly. In many cases, the impairment caused by the cataracts can be completely resolved, restoring your vision to its pre-cataract standard. This is achieved by replacing the eye’s natural cataract-affected lens with an artificial one, known as an intraocular lens (IOL).
Depending on whether you opt for private or NHS-funded Cataract Surgery, intraocular lenses can even help to improve your pre-cataract vision. This can be achieved with premium IOLs that are designed to correct long-sightedness (hyperopia), short-sightedness (myopia), and astigmatism.
Cataract Surgery is a common minor procedure, which means that you are able to return home on the same day. The treatment also generally has a fast recovery period with many patients able to return to routine activities within a matter of days. However, it may be necessary to be more cautious when returning to driving or other potentially dangerous activities.
Driving After Cataract Surgery
To answer the question posed by this article: Yes, you will be able to drive after Cataract Surgery. However, if you’re looking for a more specific timeframe, the truth is: It depends.
While the vast majority of patients enjoy a smooth recovery period, exactly how long this period may be can vary from person to person. That being said, all patients are advised to refrain from driving for at least 24 hours after their procedure. You will be given the all-clear to resume driving once it has been established that you once again meet the DVLA requirements laid out above.
This will be established during your follow-up appointment with your surgeon or ophthalmologist. If you require new glasses following your Cataract Surgery, you will likely need to wait for a few weeks for your eyes to completely heal. You will then be able to have an eye test to determine your new glasses prescription.
Other side effects that may affect your ability to drive
Following Cataract Surgery, it is common to experience side effects such as grittiness, glare, and blurred vision. While these side effects typically resolve on their own within a matter of weeks, they may affect your ability to drive during your recovery period. If you are concerned about any of these side effects or your vision in general, it is important to talk to your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Want to learn more about what to expect from Cataract Surgery, take a look at our Cataract Surgery guides!