Can I wear contact lenses after cataract removal?

Updated November 21, 2016

Cataracts are a common affliction that affects the vision of many people. Fortunately, cataract removal surgery is an effective way to remove cataracts and restore vision. However, complete sight restoration may not be possible for all patients, so it's important for them to know if they can continue wearing their contact lenses.


Cataracts involve a clouding of the eye's lens, which leads to problems with vision. The cloudy lens prevents light from properly entering the eye. While this condition is painless, a person with cataracts may have blurry or distorted vision, issues with vision and colour fading, and light sensitivity or glaring. Cataracts are very common in the elderly, but can occur in younger people as well. For example, a child may be born with cataracts due to an infection or complication prior to being born.

Cataract Removal Surgery

The only way to get rid cataracts is through surgery. This is very effective and is successful in treating most cases. It is usually an outpatient procedure with little pain and a short recovery time; most of the time, adults are kept awake for it and are only given a sedative and local anaesthesia, but children will be given general anaesthesia so they are not conscious of the procedure.

An incision is made in the eye, and the lens is removed. In most cases, a new lens is implanted into the eye. Cataract removal is a short surgery, and is usually complete in less than an hour. Generally, only one eye will be operated on at a time, so if both eyes are affected by cataracts than the doctor may recommend two separate procedures.

Contact Lenses After Surgery

Many people who needed contacts prior to their cataract removal surgery will wonder if they can still use their contacts afterward. Surprisingly, due to the removal of the cloudy lens and the implant of a new corrective lens, many people will no longer need their contacts--or glasses--after the procedure.

Some people will still need help with their vision after the surgery, but this is only the case for approximately 10 per cent of patients. Near-sighted users will be more likely to continue needing corrective lenses. Some patients will only need them until their vision has stabilised from the cataract removal surgery. Fortunately, contacts are safe to wear after cataract removal, but it is important to work with your doctor in order to make sure your eyes will benefit from them.

Do not use your old prescription lenses. Work with your doctor to have new lenses properly fitted, and take the usual precautions that are necessary in order to keep your eyes healthy with the use of contacts. Wash your hands before touching your eyes, use the proper lens cleaning solutions, store your contacts correctly, and don't hesitate to throw out disposable lenses when it is time.

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