Cataract Surgery Recovery & Alcohol Use

You have had, or are contemplating having, surgery to remove a cataract in your eye, and you want to ensure optimum conditions for your recovery following surgery. Alcohol abuse can be a factor both in creating your cataract and increasing your risk of infection after surgery.

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is a loss of transparency and a thickening in the lens of one, and often both, of your eyes that makes your vision become dim, clouded, blurry and/or dark. You may also experience double vision, see 'halos' around lights and have poor night vision. A 'hard cataract', the most common, has a hard nucleus or centre and is diagnosed most often in the elderly. A 'soft cataract' has a soft nucleus and can develop at any age, but occurs more often in the young.

What Causes a Cataract?

Causes of cataracts include ageing, congenital disorders, trauma, diabetes and intense ultra violet ray exposure. Smoking and alcohol abuse can contribute to cataracts.

The American Optometric Association reports that a study done in South East London by the Department of Ophthalmology, King's College Hospital, London, indicates there is an observable increase in cataract formation in heavy drinkers.

How is a Cataract Treated?

Cataracts usually grow slowly and need long monitoring, sometimes for years, by an ophthalmologist. Surgery, which involves replacing the lens that has the cataract with an artificial lens, is usually done when vision loss significantly affects everyday activities.

Post-Operative Infection

Post-op infection is a major risk after surgery. You must keep your eye clean and use all prescribed medications (usually eyedrops) to help lessen the risk of infection.

The Effect of Alcohol Abuse on Post-Op Infection

Studies done by the University of Berlin's Charite Hospital in 2005 show that drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol can weaken your immune system.

A weakened immune system increases the likelihood of post-op infection after any surgery, so staying away from alcohol following cataract surgery will be helpful to your recovery. Heavy drinking adds to the risk of post-op infection.