Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss, especially among senior citizens. Cataracts cloud the lens of the eye with crystalized proteins. In their early stages, cataracts can be managed with prescription lenses and lifestyle changes. However, eventually cataracts need to be treated with surgery.
Cataract surgery removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens, or IOL. The IOL restores clearer vision and reduces reliance on prescription lenses. To promote proper healing after cataract surgery, doctors at Monterey County Eye Associates advise our Salinas, CA and Monterey, CA patients to refrain from smoking. Smoking after cataract surgery can slow the healing process, and is bad for the health in general.
Why Is Smoking Bad after Cataract Surgery?
For many years, the dangers of smoking have been widely recognized by the public. Most people are well aware that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer and other respiratory conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. In addition, smoking has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain eye diseases. What is not spoken about as frequently is the effect that smoking can have on healing, particularly surgical healing.
Smoking decreases oxygen levels in the body and restricts blood flow. Even smoking just one cigarette a day can compromise the body’s ability to send nutrients and oxygen through the bloodstream, which are both vital to surgical recovery. If a surgical site does not receive the nutrients it needs, healing can take longer. Complications such as infection also become more likely without proper nutrients and a timely recovery.
How Long Do I Need to Avoid Smoking?
Because of the numerous health risks that smoking can cause, it is ideal if our Salinas-area patients undergoing cataract surgery quit this habit altogether. However, our doctors understand that this is not as easy as one would hope. To minimize the risk of surgical complications and promote a smooth and timely recovery, we advise our patients to quit smoking two to three weeks before their cataract surgery. After cataract surgery is complete, we recommend that they continue to refrain from smoking and tobacco use for at least another four weeks, or until the eyes have completely healed.
Tips for Refraining from Smoking
It can be very challenging to quit smoking, and it often takes people multiple attempts to give up the habit for good. To make it a little easier to avoid smoking in the weeks before and after cataract surgery, or quit the habit altogether, we offer these tips:
- Ask friends and loved ones for support
- Ask your doctor about prescription medications that reduce the urge to smoke
- Consider nicotine replacement therapy
- Avoid smoking triggers, like drinking alcohol
- Be prepared with activities to help you relax or occupy your mind when cravings strike (i.e. reading, going on a walk, cleaning the house, eating a healthy snack, meditating)
Schedule an Appointment
If you require cataract surgery and would like to learn more about the procedure or its recovery, the doctors at Monterey County Eye Associates would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment online or call (831) 424-1150 to schedule your appointment.