Riding after cataract surgery

Hi. I am having cataract surgery on my right eye tomorrow. I’m wondering how long I have to wait before riding my horse again. She’s in full training so I’m not worried about her not getting worked. I know there will be lifting and strenuous exercise restrictions afterwards, from what I’ve read,

I was just wondering what other people’s experiences and medical recommendations have been specifically for riding. Thanks!

2 weeks at least. Ask your doctor when you see them the day after the surgery.

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Thanks you so much. I plan to ask my doctor, but I’m not sure how many horseback riders he deals with, so wanted to get some equestrian opinions

The trick is to not have a fall from a horse soon after surgery. So don’t go riding any broncs or unknown greenies for a while. Obviously. To sleep, you will be given a clear eye covering patch, which tapes into position- so that if you turn in your sleep the pressure from the pillow won’t go onto the eye that got the surgery. So, landing on your head off a horse (or even just landing hard) has the risk of shaking things loose in your eye- until the new lens has solidified into position. You have to sleep with that eye cover in place for the first two weeks, and I wore it in the day time for a while too, just to make sure that the eye didn’t get bumped or pressure on it in any way. After that, I guess that things have started to heal adequately that pressure won’t shift it. That was my experience, anyway. Since it was mid winter when mine was done, I wasn’t riding anyway (-20C with snow and ice here- horses turned out for winter).

For the surgery, I don’t know how much you’ve been told, but here is my take on it. It doesn’t hurt, but it is freaky. Stay STILL, and remember to keep breathing regularly. DON’T panic. It’s a procession of half a dozen or patients at a time, taken one at a time from the waiting room. I was the fourth to go in, the first two walked out smiling, and saying “no problem”. You walk out of the surgery wearing the clear eye patch taped on, and they sit you down again in the waiting room and put a blood pressure cuff on you, and watch you for a few minutes to make sure that everything is OK. The third one came out, frantic, staggering, low blood pressure, face white and drawn, looking like passing out, full blown panic attack. Then my turn- yikes. “Keep breathing”. Nothing will put you into a panic attack like lack of oxygen. Good luck!


Thanks, could you tell us more, aftercare, etc.?

Have been putting it off, will have to cave in some day and get to it and sure not happy about that, would help to have more to go by, please.
Signed, Chicken Little.

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@Bluey do what the surgeon tells you to do You only have one pair of eyes - even if they will become somewhat bionic after the surgery, lol

  1. There are numbered levels to the degree the cataracts are. Mine were both a two, which made them ready to be removed.

A person can keep putting the surgery off until the number damage reaches a four, you’re nearly blind and the cataracts are then so bad there may possible be permanent scarring on the eye.

  1. I most certainly went to a reputable ophthalmologist who specializes in this type of surgery — right in the middle of Covid. Things went great because I went to the hospital’s satellite surgery center and they ran that facility like a well oiled machine.

2.1. My eyes were done one at a time, two weeks apart in case there may have been issues but it all went like clockwork.

2.1. I was wide awake, could see the doctor, the nurses and talked to everyone during the surgery. My eyes, however, were totally numb with absolutely NO FEELING.

2.2 When the surgeon removes the clouded human lens, an IOL (intraocular lens) is seated in its place. There are different types that perform different functions. You can google intraocular lens and read up on them:)

2.2.2. I wasn’t messing around and taking chances with the fancy stuff, so I chose the standard IOL, plus Medicare would only pay for the standard IOL. That meant I would still need eyeglasses but that’s ok because the first night I looked up at the sky and saw how very beautiful it was without that wall of cataract cloud, I did shed a few tears of thanks:)

  1. I was supposed to stay out of the barn completely for the entire time during both surgeries. DH still works full time, we were able to find someone to come and clean the stalls for thirty days.

I premixed the horses supplements at the house, DH fed them twice daily, and the neighbor cleaned the stalls better than I do, lollol

I did stay out of the barn for several days after each surgery but when I did go down I wore air tight construction goggles - not fun in the middle of summer but I wasn’t going to be totally stupid by risking barn dust in my eyes.

I also stayed off the tractors and didn’t do anything outside that involved stirring up dust or straining my eyes.

No running the vacuum and no lifting anything 25# or more. I think no bending up/down to clean was also a no-no, can’t remember.

3.1. If you currently wear glasses or contacts, they won’t work after the surgery so go to Walmart and look for a OTC corrective lens and some “cheap sunglasses” until the surgeon deems you healed enough to get prescription glasses.

  1. The surgeon will send you home with eye meds and an eye cup that you MUST tape to your new eye when you go to sleep. This is so the eye doesn’t get crushed during sleep and risk moving the IOL out of place. I wore mine for seven days even though they said I didn’t have to.

4.1. I had a chart that I had to keep track of the eye meds daily. Early after the surgery I think I had four sets of drops and they gradually tapered off.

I discovered in all of this that I have ocular hypertension which means I have eye drops for that for the rest of my life. It doesn’t mean you have that, I’m just mentioning it because my eyes are fine as long as I remember to use the drops every day.

  1. I am on Medicare and they paid every penny of the surgery. However, they on,y allowed $130? for eyeglasses and the frames that fall into that category were just plain Fugly.

  2. To reiterate as long as the eye surgeon has a long standing BTA rating with his peers and his clients and as long as you don’t wait until your cataracts have reached a level four, there’s nothing to worry about.

You will need someone to drive you home. I’m a person who could go to work after having root canals without anesthetic but I would not attempt to drive myself home after cataract surgery.

This was probably way more than you wanted but you asked, lollol


Thank you so much!
I am printing all that so I can study it, carefully.

Wonderful information, that really, really will help. :hugs:


Best to bite the bullet and get em done. I only had to have one done, the other eye was normal- perfect vision. No one knows why. I didn’t even know I had a problem until I tried to read an eye chart with the “bad” eye… couldn’t see a thing with the good eye covered- “surprise!”. Other eye had completely taken over with my vision. The above advice is exactly how it was with mine too. The DH did the drops religiously for me. We got quite good at it.

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I asked my surgeon, his wife also rides. His order was “don’t get in a fight” but I could do anything. I specifically asked about riding. I didn’t that afternoon, but back to riding the next day.


Hi all!

Well I’m two days post cataract surgery. Everything went well. The care I had from the moment I stepped into the Eye clinic was wonderful. Everything was explained to me in detail by the nurses, the anesthesiologist and the surgeon, who answered any last minute concerns and questions I had, I was awake through the whole thing but did not feel a thing (thanks to my cracker jack anesthesiologist, Peter!). I never would have thought i could tolerate anyone doing anything to my eye, but honestly, I’ve had dental surgery that was much, much worse LOL. The surgery was to my right eye, and the surgeon also put in a stent because I have glaucoma. And the stent means I don’t have to use drops anymore. I didn;t even know I had the beginnings of glaucoma until I had a complete eye exam prior to cataract surgery, because my pressures were always normal. But the doctor could see the beginnings of ocular nerve damage from it.

Bluey, for aftercare, I’m taking three kinds of eye drops…two I take 4 times a day and one I take twice daily. Two are anti-inflammatories and one is an antibiotic. I will gradually taper off their use over the coming month. I saw an opthamologist the day after my surgery to make sure everything was still okay. It was. I am amazed to say that my vision in the right eye is pretty perfect after just a day! It will continue to get better. Sometimes it feels scratchy or like something is in the eye, but that is normal. And everything is brighter! The day of surgery things were pretty distorted but that’s t be expected.

For one week after surgery, I have to wear a clear plastic patch taped over my eye when I go to sleep so I don’t inadvertently rub it.

As for riding, the surgeon said I can resume horseback riding a week after surgery. I was surprised it was so soon. He said that is how long it takes for the incision to completely close and heal. My mare is pretty safe so I might feel comfortable just walking her around. But I still will be careful for the next few weeks, I think. I also think I will wear wrap around sunglasses to the barn (it’s pretty bright even in the indoor) because of dust and typical barn stuff floating around.

Nancy M and Wallkinthewalk gave some really good advice too for aftercare. Thank you!! I did go to CVS and got some cheap reading glasses and the sunglasses I mentioned. I did not realize that although the surgery corrected my distance vision, I now need reading glasses to see close up. I got the strongest ones ,3.25. I was able to read with them. As they mentioned, no bending at the waist for at least a week. I bend at the knees if I have to reach down.

Because my left eye is pretty bad too (i’ve had horrible vision my entire life and have worn contacts since I was 14),I’m getting that one done on December 7th. I can’t wait. Its pretty disorienting to have almost perfect vision in one eye and crappy vision in the other. During the day, I wear a contact lens in my left eye, which works pretty well. But at night, when I take it out, its pretty wonky. I’ve thought about just removing the right lens out of my current glasses until the next surgery LOL.

Thanks again for your responses,including Possumhorse…great to hear you went right back to riding! Bluey, I was very nervous too about the surgery, But I think it was worth it! So far, anyway. I’m only into day 3 post op. Feel free to message me ior ask here, if you have any more questions.

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I had both mine done earlier this year, 2 weeks apart. I stayed away from the barn for a month. Surgery went smoothly, except. On the second surgery, I could feel, as in pain, the cutting of my eyeball. I knew it would last only 10 seconds so I just ignored it. I had numbing eyedrops plus whatever was in the IV. Versed? I told the eye surgeon the next day and he said that it’s a fine line between not enough numbing and too much. Well, I lived so that’s fine. You are right, the weirdest thing is the interval between surgeries when one eye is perfect and the other is still wonky. I tried to wear my prescription glasses with one lenses popped out but that didn’t work. I was slightly unbalanced so didn’t ride til both eyes were done. Now I just need readers.

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Wow peedin. What a horrible experience to feel the pain of them slicing into your eyeball! I get that it’s a fine line with anesthesia, but still. Glad the final result for both eyes was good though. ( I had a bad experience with my last colonoscopy….felt everything. Not going back to that place again!)

. I’m going to be very careful about going to the barn and riding. I probably won’t ride for a couple more weeks. And will wear wrap around sunglasses in the barn because if the dirt and dust. I’d rather err on the side of caution.

I can’t wait until they are both done because it is awkward now. Thanks for your input.

Thank you for the details!

I also have to get mine done and I am worried about not being able to go to the barn. My eye doctor did not tell me what level mine are, but once I make the appt with the specialist I will find out. I don’t think they are horrible yet, it’s mainly driving at night that is a problem.

The 2 doctors I checked out do put you under light sedation.

I plan on getting the lens that will allow me not to need glasses.

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You had an IV??? I had no IV, just drops. The surgeon was young, I was told in advance that he looked like a high school student- and he DID! But was also told “not to worry, as he has REAL STEADY HANDS”. Great joke, really funny ha ha. But he did have steady hands… apparently a “boy wonder” in the field.

I didn’t know there was a type of lens that allowed you to not need reading glasses afterward. Interesting! My doctor never mentioned that as an option, Maybe it wouldn’t have been for my particular problem. But I did wonder if they made bifocal lenses.

NancyM. I had an IV put it too for sedation, as well as eye drops. That’s a funny story about your young doctor LOL

I would still need reading glasses, but with the upgraded lenses I would not need my contacts or my regular glasses. They may be able to give you a lens for reading amd one for distance, tho I’m not sure about that.

I had early cataract surgery a couple of years ago, due to my galloping nearsightness finally getting to the point where I was a -12 or so lens and even that was fast going obsolete. I didn’t need any appreciable astigmatism correction, so my choice was whether to go with a standard monofocal lens or a multifocal one at additional cost. I was told that all the monofocals at that time were a compromise and that distance vision or night vision or both suffered due to the concentric circles within the multifocal lens making distance vision fuzzy. In fact, the doctor said he’s removed multifical lenses and replaced them with monofocal for pilots, truck drivers, hunters, and others who want or need razor-sharp distance vision. So, I tuned my eyes for maximum distance vision, ended up with fantastic 20/15 vision the day after the surgery, and I need to wear reader glasses to read any normal size print.

COMPLICATION: My left eye had developed cloudiness in the lens capsule within 2 weeks after the surgery and kept worsening. I had it lasered probably 4 or 5 months after the cataract surgery. My right eye has been doing the same, but at a much slower pace, and I will get it lasered in Dec 2021. The laser is an “interesting” experience. It’s like someone hammering on your skull, and you’ll have only extreme blurred vision in that eye after the procedure. They use a pulse laser or some kind of laser to obliterate the cloudy lens capsule, I beleive. You definitely need a driver to take you home from that procedure. Vision gradually cleared and I had essentially normal vision 2 days later Just not the same crystal-clear that I had immediately after cataract surgery, which is disappointing. I have a very slight startburst or halo around bright lights at night. Not enough to interfere with night driving or anything. The younger you are when you have the cataract surgery, the more likely your capsules are to have an growth of cells that clouds your vision.

Late summer 2021, I switched to a desk job and I tried to get a suitable rx for a pair of multi-focal glasses that I’d be able to wear all the time, instead always having to do the on/off thing with the reading glasses. The optometrist tried two times to find a rx that would work for that, and both times the result was glasses that made my vision worse than with the dollar store reader glasses. What we finally did was just make up a pair of single vision reading glasses with a very slight tweaks for my minimal astigmatism, and those work well for long periods of intense desk work. She said there are no contact lenses whatsoever that wold help my reading vision. I am apparently stuck with perfect distance vision and always having to don reading glasses, unless possibly I go with plain old bifocals. But nothing says “old” to me like ugly bifocals, so I will continue to juggle the reading glasses for the near future.

As for the surgery, the 3 clinics (hospital and private clinics) here that do cataract surgery all use general anesthesia. There’s no place here that I’ve ever heard of where the person is awake for the surgery and/or walks out afterward. You definitely always need a driver after any general anesthesia. My doctors didn’t place any restrictions on me for lifting, riding, returning to work, etc. But I had read what the typical post-op restrictions are and decided it would be prudent to adhere to those even if my doctor didn’t think it necessary. Better safe than sorry.

Had mine done early 2020, just managed to get the second one done days before our Province went into its first Covid lockdown.

The surgeon who did mine was the guy who fixed my torn retina a few years back, so knew what to expect, bloody good surgeon, but zero interpersonal skills! No anaesthesia here, gladly took the “take the edge off” pill offered in the pre op wait. Worst part for me was the several rounds of drops the nurses put in whil you wait, not fun.

The op itself, well first was the delight that Mr Zero Personality has great taste in music, and likes to listen while he operates, enjoyed that. Nothing hurt, nothing was unpleasant, I got a real sixties moment, when he takes the old lens out, everything went kind of dull, then the new lens goes in, and it’s like a phsycadelic explosion, so many colours and starbursts, very pretty.

He was more worried about dust and dirt going to the barn, but stuck to his usual, no riding for 10 days. I popped the lens out of my specs between times, made it workable between Ops.

The funniest thing, LOVE riding with no glasses, for the first time ever, no more steaming up! Then at a lesson someone asked me to read a dressage test for them…errr, nope, no can do, can’t read tests without glasses…can’t read gradients on wormer tubes, or other meds…

I did ask about a different lens for reading in the other eye. It’s possible, but will mean my distance vision won’t be as sharp. I won’t mind the reading glasses! I’m looking forward to having my distance vision back. And I won’t need contacts anymore!

I had mine done last spring, a week apart. I’m grossed out when people put contacts in. I have to admit it was a lot easier than I anticipated. I can’t put any eye drops in myself because of nerve damage in my right arm. The first surgeon said I could hold the bottle with my left hand near the inside corner of my eye. He operates on eyes. He couldn’t understand that one-handed was not realistic. I don’t have any finger dexterity. I can line up the Heinz ketchup bottle over the burger. That’s as much precision as I can handle.

There is a “dropless” procedure where drugs are injected into the eye. No need for eyedrops. The first surgeon said nothing about it. I had a call from my ophthalmologist’s office a few days later. Someone knew someone who knew my ophthalmologist knows the only surgeon in Maine and New Hampshire who does the dropless procedure. I can’t compare it with the regular procedure but the only aftereffects were some floaters in my left eye that disappeared. I assume Medicare pays both procedures at the same rate.

There are a couple of types of lenses. Medicare pays for the cheapest ones. The rest are a couple of thousand more and you pay all of it. I’ve used progressives for decades instead of reading glasses. I got the lens that corrects long-distances and stuck with the progressive readers.

I didn’t ask anyone about the barn until after the first surgery. All they said was be careful. My horse was on an extended break for 4/5 lameness in his left front knee so I wasn’t riding. A few months later I retired him from riding. He doesn’t look or act his age (27) and we are learning long-lining.

My friend who chauffeured me around had a 6 weeks break for hers. Mine was a week and nothing happened that would make me think a longer break was better. They also did the 24 hour checkup visit before you went home and a follow-up 3-4 days later.

I like Lenscrafters; local store is not doing one-hour service. I combined their current sale prices with my Medicare Advantage plan that kicked in $400 from the wellness wallet and another discount from AARP. That got me progressives in clear and sunglasses without breaking the bank. My prescription changed a lot and I can read things on the computer screen when I am in the same room without glasses.

My mom graduated from nursing school in 1943. She said back then eye surgery meant a couple of weeks in the hospital with your head immobilized with sand bags.

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